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Durkan’s office responds to call for housing and services — not sweep — to clear Capitol Hill’s Miller Park

Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office has responded to a call for emergency action to provide housing and services to clear tents and encampments at Miller Park playfield before the mid-April return of in-person instruction at the campus’s Meany Middle School.

A statement from the mayor’s office says Durkan is seeking “additional resources” from FEMA but says “removal” of encampments will happen “if individuals do not accept shelter or the resources offered.”

“The City has been using every federal dollar possible to move more people inside, and the Mayor spoke with the White House today to ask for additional resources,” the statement sent Tuesday night from Durkan’s office reads. “Encampment removals have been limited over the last year due to COVID-19, but the City believes we have to address encampments on sidewalks, playfields, and parks as we open new shelter spaces like the Executive Pacific Hotel and Kings Inn operated by Chief Seattle Club.”

“Individuals will be offers (sic) shelters at these locations from parks and encampments across the City,” the statement reads.

Mayoral candidate Colleen Echohawk, executive director of the Chief Seattle Club human services agency, called on the city this week to take emergency action to avoid a sweep and offer “emergency rehousing” to those camping at Miller that follows the JustCare model — transitioning people to a safe place to sleep while providing wrap-around services such as mental health and addiction treatment.” Echohawk and others have also blasted the Durkan administration for inaction with FEMA funding available that, Echohawk says, would allow Seattle to “immediately begin moving homeless people into unused hotel space.”

The Durkan response sent to CHS Tuesday night did not rule out a sweep.

“Often after weeks – sometimes months – of outreach and services offered, individuals may still decline to move,” the mayor’s office statement continues. “When that is unsuccessful, the City must still address the broader public health and safety concerns, including making sure children can get to and from school, and believe all City Councilmembers, candidates for Mayor and the School Board should support this approach.”

“As businesses and schools reopen, we will continue to offer these resources, with the same commitment to leading with outreach and addressing the welfare of our unhoused neighbors along with that of nearby residents and businesses, which may mean removal of an encampment if individuals do not accept shelter or the resources offered,” it concludes.

In January, three weeks after police led a city sweep of encampments and activists from Cal Anderson, CHS reported on how encampments have grown in other Capitol Hill parks including Miller which has grown into the largest in the area.

CHS reported on concerns about the camps and tents raised earlier this month in a neighborhood virtual meeting set up by the nearby St. Joseph parish that included Deputy Mayor Casey Sixkiller. The city says workers from homeless services nonprofit REACH have been at the playfield and Seattle Parks workers have been at the site to perform regular maintenance and clean-up.

Seattle Public Schools, like districts across the state, must being offering an option of in-person instruction to students after a year of online-only classes by April 19th.


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Suburbs are the problem
Suburbs are the problem
19 days ago

Parks, sidewalks and other public spaces should not be where our houseless and in-need people live.

As a society, we’re able to help those in need with shelter, medical and mental health services.

The problem is, like almost all societal problems, people in the suburbs and NIMBY attitude.

In short

  1. It’s right to sweep & ensure our cities are safe, clean and healthy for everyone
  2. It’s also right to have funds, people and effort spent on for those vulnerable and houseless populations to ensure that they are taken care of
  3. This is not the sole burden of urban populations and cities; and the cost and efforts MUST be inclusive of suburban and rural populations; and with interstate/federal funds.

This is a very solvable problem, especially given the wealth in Bellevue, Issaquah, Mercer Island, West Seattle, Woodinville, Redmond, and other surrounding communities.

Russ
Russ
19 days ago

The surprising thing is that elementary schools and libraries have become housing for the homeless.

Fairly Obvious
Fairly Obvious
19 days ago

Thanks to 50 years of tax cuts on the wealthy, the top 1% own 40% of our country’s wealth; the top 10% own 70% of the country’s wealth.

They are not producing that wealth, the Americans living paycheck to paycheck, one unfortunate incident away from homelessness, are. That wealth is not trickling back down to American workers like 50 years of bold faced lies told us about tax cuts on the wealthy.

We have the money to fix the homeless problem many times over, we’ve just decided that we’d rather Bezos and his ilk keep our country’s GDP locked up in stocks and offshore accounts.

Suburbs are the problem
Suburbs are the problem
18 days ago
Reply to  Fairly Obvious

Indeed, and for arbitrary reasons, choosing to allow suburbs and rural areas to make all the hard problems, problems that cities / urban populations need to deal with.

It’s unacceptable, and will need to change. Urban cities are one of the best innovations humanity has ever come up with, and we can’t have NIMBY suburban attitudes ruin our chances of prosperity for all.

RWK
RWK
19 days ago

I hope Durkan is serious when she says individuals who refuse offers of better housing will be “removed.” She has been dithering on this issue for months, just like she did with CHOP last spring.

Fairly Obvious
Fairly Obvious
19 days ago
Reply to  RWK

And of course Bob, you’re well aware that our region does not offer “better” housing, so of course she’s blowing smoke when she claims that. The housing situation in our region is abysmal.

I know you have some weird fixation on the homeless “choosing” to be homeless, but no rational person could truly believe that someone would “choose” to live outside in Seattle, especially through our dark, wet, cold winters.

RWK
RWK
18 days ago
Reply to  Fairly Obvious

Not all, but some homeless do choose to stay on the streets, because they are unwilling/unable to give up their addictions. This is a documented fact by outreach workers over the years. Recently, the City has hotel rooms available for those who want to come inside.

Fairly Obvious
Fairly Obvious
17 days ago
Reply to  RWK

but some homeless do choose to stay on the streets, because they are unwilling/unable to give up their addictions

The fact that you use “choose” and “unable” in the same sentence shows that you don’t truly understand the homeless crisis.

Unfortunately, enough people share your views to drive policy, which is a major reason we’re in this situation.

Zach
Zach
19 days ago

I want to better understand what’s behind this quote: “Often after weeks – sometimes months – of outreach and services offered, individuals may still decline to move.” Specifically this places total blame on the houseless. What about looking critically at the nature of the “outreach and services offered” as people who decline must have reasons. It’s not my place to judge those reasons but I think is place of outreach and services to adjust outreach and services in order to meet those reasons.

CD Rez
CD Rez
19 days ago
Reply to  Zach

Lol they’re drug addicts and/or mentally ill. You’re waaay overcomplicating. Take help or get swept.

Zach
Zach
19 days ago
Reply to  CD Rez

You feel into my linguistic trap. Judge a society by how it treats the most vulnerable among us. The help offered is not enough. Improve the quality and quantity of services before blaming the most vulnerable and needy. The city can call something “help” but it doesn’t mean it actually is.

slider292
slider292
19 days ago
Reply to  Zach

There’s nothing wrong with placing blame on them. Many are adults who simply refuse to follow rules and/or accept the most basic level of responsibility. Of course there are people that have had genuinely sh-t luck. But, for people who are willing to help themselves, there are few places in the country with more available resources than Seattle. The take-home from the past decade is that you can’t help people who refuse to help themselves, no matter how much you increase spending. The evidence for this can’t get any clearer.

Do better
Do better
18 days ago
Reply to  slider292

It’s not just the suburbs and the state as a whole taking advantage, the city itself is taking advantage of Capitol Hill and its environs by allowing a concentration of encampments and addiction issues to establish here. A few other areas, including the university district and Ballard are also highly impacted, but not to the same extent. Because Capitol Hill has a lot of multi family rental housing and is not as homeowner dense as other districts, it’s considerably less reactionary. That has led to its convenient exploitation. The city seems happy to abandon this neighborhood to drug dealing, open consumption and destitution. This needs to change.

Do better

RWK
RWK
18 days ago
Reply to  Do better

Agree completely!!

RWK
RWK
18 days ago
Reply to  Zach

Since the disbanding of the Navigation Team (by the City Council), outreach efforts have been done by nonprofits contracted by the City, at taxpayer expense. I see no evidence that these efforts have been at all successful. Handing out socks is not effective outreach.

Rachel
Rachel
1 hour ago

The Mayor’s office is LYING – see their statement below quoted in the article. The City offered the residents of Miller Park housing for the FIRST TIME in the past year on 4/7/2021. Everyone offered housing accepted. The City’s HOPE team will only be able to move 16 residents to housing ahead of the sweep planned for 4/16/2021 as due to the moving logistics they can only move 4 people in per day. There are 20 more residents who want to get in to housing who will not get in before 4/16/2021.

Meany Middle School PTSA board along with our group HOCS CD/CapHill Homeless Organizing Community Seattle have asked the mayor’s office to postpone the sweep until all residents who want to get into housing are in the hotel. Otherwise, we will have to temporarily relocate residents during a PANDEMIC and wait for them to get in next week and even into the week following due to the speed with which folks are able to be moved.

I along with a group of outreach volunteers and Evergreen Treatment Services & REACH‘s outreach team have been visiting Miller Park regularly over the course of the past year. Nobody has ever been offered housing before. The Mayor’s office is lying. This is unacceptable.
“Often after weeks – sometimes months – of outreach and services offered, individuals may still decline to move,” the mayor’s office statement continues. “When that is unsuccessful, the City must still address the broader public health and safety concerns, including making sure children can get to and from school, and believe all City Councilmembers, candidates for Mayor and the School Board should support this approach.”