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Seattle to expand city team in charge of homeless camp clean-ups

Mayor Jenny Durkan’s strategy to address homelessness issues in Seattle will be increasingly focused on sweeps as the city’s team trained clean out encampments is again set to expand.

In Friday’s announcement, Durkan said Seattle’s Navigation Team will grow by four new hires to 38 employees and begin to respond to clean-up and sweep situations seven days a week.

“This crisis requires urgent action and new steps. We will continue to work for holistic solutions and do more to help bring people inside and connect them with services and housing – and we will continue to invest in the strategies we know have an impact, like enhanced shelter and our Navigation Team,” Durkan said in an announcement of the expanded team.

Durkan has overseen a near doubling in Navigation Team employees since she took office.

The growth of the team continues the mayor’s strategy after pushing for more Seattle Police and firefighters, and the Navigation Team expansion amid tighter belts at City Hall during the last $5.9 billion budget phase.

In pounding out that budget, City Council members spent many of their efforts in the “balancing package” into trying to patch holes left in Durkan’s proposals when it came to spending on emergency and more temporary shelter solutions. District 3 rep Kshama Sawant, meanwhile, and other critics targeted Durkan and the Navigation Team in their efforts to push back on the pick for a new director of Human Services, the department that oversees much of the city’s homelessness spending.

As part of her announcement Friday, Durkan also lauded the Washington State Legislature’s approval of $1 million to clear “debris, garbage, and hazardous materials, and implement safety improvements” along I-5 and I-90 through Seattle.

Beyond camp clean-ups, Capitol Hill businesses along Broadway now have more resources to help with issues around homelessness. In April, Evergreen Treatment Center’s REACH program was selected to restore homelessness outreach services for Broadway businesses with support from the city budget under an effort managed by the Broadway Business Improvement Area.

2019, meanwhile, will also see a new effort under the wing of the Seattle Fire Department that will pilot a new response team for homelessness, substance abuse, and mental health issues in downtown and on Capitol Hill.


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11 thoughts on “Seattle to expand city team in charge of homeless camp clean-ups

  1. Since when is allowing people to live in utter squalor, shooting heroin, dealing with violence and sexual assault, a way to protect human rights?

    Maybe the Human Rights Commission is part of the problem but hides behind their name.

  2. So far nothing has been done about “our poor unfortunate neighbor” who has had a tent set up since December 2018 right across from Trader Joe’s on Madison; regardless of the complaints and the fact that he is camped on private property and has been stealing electricity from the condos. He’s been told by neighbors to “Clean up your garbage!” There are dogs stepping on his needles.

  3. Good for Durkan! I fully support her efforts to clean up the camps (which are a boil on an otherwise beautiful city), and at the same time to provide more specific help for those with mental health and addiction issues. Hers is exactly the right approach.

    I especially like that more money will be going to WSDOT to clean up the camps on their property, because that is a big part of the problem.

  4. It’s not a Human Right to break health codes, violate the criminal code, and live in absolute disgusting conditions. It’s just not.

    • You must understand…. these people who think homelessness is a human right are the ones who also argue that a person eating their own feces isn’t harming themselves because it won’t kill you immediately…

      What we are allowing to happen here is not compassionate.

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