Regional Homelessness Authority says progress in sweeping encampments from along I-5 in Seattle

An I-5 camp (Image: City of Seattle)

Local officials say a program to fund removal of encampments from state property along I-5 has successfully cleared three camps in Seattle including one near the base of Capitol Hill at the Olive Way onramp to I-5.

The King County Regional Homelessness Authority announced the latest “successful encampment resolution this week under Gov. Jay Inslee’s Right of Way Safety Initiative and its $144 million in statewide funding for the removals along the busy freeway up and down the state. The KCRHA says the state has already provided $13.8 million in funds for “the first round of encampment work in King County.”

The latest clearance under the program moved 75 people “previously living unsheltered” at I-5 and Dearborn to “shelter, lodging, inpatient treatment, and housing resources,” the KCRHA said, touting its “intensive six-week” process to provide outreach and clear the camp. Continue reading

City sweeps large Belmont homeless encampment

The largest homeless encampment remaining on Capitol Hill was cleared by city crews Thursday.

CHS reported in late July that Mayor Bruce Harrell’s office had identified the Belmont at Denny camp “a priority site” for clearance after ongoing public safety issues including shootings and assaults at the cluster of tents set up on the parking strip and sidewalk along Belmont. Continue reading

Mayor’s office calls Belmont encampment ‘a priority site’ as police investigate another shooting

Some of the tents along Belmont (Image: CHS)

Police are investigating after a fight and attempted shooting reported Thursday night at the large encampment area that has formed along Belmont Ave E at Denny as officials say the site has been prioritized for outreach and removal after ongoing reports of public safety issues including gun violence and fires.

“This encampment is a priority site for the city,” a spokesperson for Mayor Bruce Harrell’s office told CHS earlier this week before Thursday night’s gunplay. “It is on the list to receive upcoming outreach with the goal of connecting those living onsite with shelter before an encampment removal.”

With a faster response to providing shelter and housing outreach and clearing even small camps on Capitol Hill under the Harrell administration, the stretch of Belmont across from Goodwill has grown into the largest camp in the neighborhood. Continue reading

No reported signs of foul play as body found in tent in Volunteer Park — UPDATE

Thanks to a CHS reader for the picture from the scene

A work crew cleaned out an encampment in Volunteer Park Tuesday. The area had been taped off an marked as a biohazard after a bod was found dead at the camp last week.

According to East Precinct and Seattle Fire radio updates, a dead body was found inside the tent beneath a tree along the park trail just east of the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

Seattle Police were called to the park just before 5 PM Friday and called Seattle Fire to the scene for the “DOA” victim. The area was not locked down as a crime scene which is typical if there are signs of trauma or a suspicious death.

We are following up with SPD, SFD, and the county coroner to learn more about the investigation.

UPDATE: Seattle Fire says the person who died was a 35-year-old man who was “found deceased.”

While unusual, bodies of people camping and living unhoused have occasionally been recovered from Capitol Hill area parks. In 2016, CHS reported on two bodies found in separate areas of Interlaken Park and covered a father’s search for his son who had been struggling with addiction and homelessness that led to the discovery.

 

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Bertha Pitts Campbell Place supportive apartment building on 12th Ave opens, part of wave of area projects from Plymouth Housing

 

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(Image: William Wright Photography)

Plymouth Housing is celebrating the grand opening of its new Bertha Pitts Campbell Place supportive housing facility at 12th and Spruce.

The 100-unit building provides studio apartments to adults “who have previously experienced homelessness.”

The new 12th Ave building is named for Seattle civil rights activist Bertha Pitts Campbell, “the first woman of African descent to vote on a YWCA board in the United States, setting the precedent for ending discrimination on YWCA boards nationwide.” Continue reading

Organizers say ‘Yes on I-135’ social housing initiative is behind on signature goal

Organizers trying to get the House Our Neighbors initiative to create a new public developer “to build, acquire, own, and manage social housing” on Seattle’s November ballot say their signature gathering effort is falling short of goals and are asking for support to help wrap the process up before the end of June.

“It is a common practice for signature gatherers to be highly visible in public spaces because of the great opportunities those provide,” an announcement from the House Our Neighbors organizer reads. “However, our approach is conscientious of the spirit and intent of events and gatherings, such as the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Day and we opted to not interrupt those sacred moments of healing out of respect, and instead we showed up in solidarity.”

The group says its grassroots approach, the spring’s bad weather, and a limited budget have put its signature gathering effort at around 15,000 signees — short of its goal of gathering the approximately 27,000 signatures it needs by June 20th.

The group headed by homelessness advocacy group Real Change is asking for supporters to add their signatures to help make the total. Continue reading

‘Driven by data’ and mapping ‘Verified Tent and RV Encampments,’ Mayor Harrell rolls out One Seattle Homelessness Action Plan

A sweep earlier in 2022 at Seven Hills Park

Harrell’s new dashboard maps “Verified Tent and RV Encampments”

With reporting by Elizabeth Turnbull

Mayor Bruce Harrell has released his plan for taking action on Seattle’s ongoing homelessness crisis with a strategy that includes a funding focus on the King County Regional Homelessness Authority, reducing encampments and offering better alternatives to people living outdoors, affordable housing, and a new data-driven approach including a new “Transparency Dashboard” to track City Hall’s progress.

At a press briefing on Tuesday, Harrell touted the new approach and $118 million in planned funding of the new regional homelessness authority — enough to power about 70% of the region-wide effort’s budget. Harrell said the new approach and the new dashboard is a step forward and will be used responsibly.

“We’re not afraid to look at the data, that does not mean we are criminalizing poverty,” Harrell said. “This does not mean we’re not compassionate, or empathetic. It means that we’re opening up the data for everyone to see. So you can see what I see.” Continue reading

‘WE HAVE EACH OTHER – WE NEED EACH OTHER’ — A Will and A Way uplifts unhoused community on Capitol Hill through mutual aid

Seattle’s homelessness crisis continues and government efforts come and go — here is one very small example of a different approach that moves outside City Hall’s response to the crisis. Forming in small community efforts nationwide during Black Lives Matter and anti-police protests of recent years, mutual aid organizations use donations to provide marginalized groups with resources such as food and medical care. One busy here is A Will and A Way, a Capitol Hill-based organization that seeks to uplift and support the local unhoused community.

A Will and A Way formed from a group of local protest medics who provided care to participants in a number of local demonstrations, that has since branched out and began to offer support services over the year and a half it has been on the Hill, a member of A Will and A Way tells CHS.

“We started to see how much the police brutality was also affecting the unhoused community, and so as the protests started to die down, we shifted into providing medical aid to the unhoused community,” the member said.

The member CHS spoke with chose to remain anonymous in order to avoid putting themselves in the spotlight above other members in the group — reflecting the horizontal organization of A Will and A Way. Continue reading

Seattle’s Public Defender Association-led shelter program might help slow its homelessness crisis — if someone will pay for it

(Image: JustCARE)

By Hannah Saunders

As the effort to address the homelessness crisis across Seattle and around Puget Sound shifts to the King County Regional Homelessness Authority, funding for the the Public Defender Association-led JustCARE shelter program will continue.

“JustCARE entails both a field-based engagement and intake strategy, and then it wouldn’t mean anything to do the work that we do if we didn’t have places for people to go that meet the needs of many of the folks who have historically been rebuffed by the sheltering system,” said Lisa Daugaard, director of JustCARE.

The authority included funding from federal and local sources to extend the JustCARE program but officials are still working out how — and if — there is a way to come up with the $10 million a year the program needs to continue.

JustCARE focuses on those who have been exposed to police enforcement and prosecution relating to behavioral health issues or poverty, which Daugaard believes would be better addressed through care, case management, and support.

Daugaard explained how since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, she has seen sudden displacement of Seattle residents onto the city’s streets. She described how at the start of 2020, jails ceased booking people and police officers were instructed—for their personal health and safety—to not make contact unless during a high priority situation.

Meanwhile, restrictions closed numerous homeless shelters operating in Seattle, as well as public spaces such as community centers and libraries. Continue reading

Capitol Hill ‘mini park’ to be cleared amid Seattle’s continued, smaller homeless encampment sweeps

Thanks to a CHS reader for the picture from the mini park

The pace of Seattle homeless encampment sweeps has picked up under Mayor Bruce Harrell’s administration including clearances of small camps sometimes nearly as quickly as they take shape. The new pace will bring a clearance this week of one Capitol Hill encampment apparently formed by an individual camper at the Thomas Street Mini Park.

The latest clearance has been announced for the area around the 300 block Bellevue Ave E park on Thursday morning where city workers and outreach contractors are planned to be on scene to provide assistance and clear away any remaining belongings and debris.

“The City is addressing this encampment as it impedes access to the park and open space for neighboring communities,” a Seattle Parks spokesperson tells CHS about the planned clearance.

It isn’t the first time in the current pandemic wave of Seattle’s homelessness crisis that the park has been swept — CHS reported here on a clearance last September — but the small camp targeted for clearance this time is indicative of the increased and more rapidly deployed resources for removing encampments from public spaces under the Harrell administration as COVID-19 restrictions fade. Continue reading