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SEATTLE’S housing shortage threatens to unfairly pit two vulnerable populations against one another: about 40 homeless residents of the Nickelsville encampments in the Central District and the business owners and patrons of Little Saigon.

Mayor Ed Murray and the City Council must act. Invest in shelters that allow people to stay with their loved ones. Or consider finding city-owned property to provide it.

When the City Council ordered Nickelsville to close in West Seattle last year because of health and safety concerns, the Low Income Housing Institute welcomed the residents to a vacant lot, with the understanding it would be temporary.

Now the residents are honoring a promise to leave. A property owner offered space at 1001 South Dearborn Street, and Nickelsville plans to move there on Monday.

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City officials are reviewing the site.

The Little Saigon community was blindsided by a public notice in ethnic newspapers last week.

When the city closed the West Seattle site, the council directed $500,000 to help the campers find shelter or housing. The effort clearly fell short, since this camp is still here. The health and safety concerns also remain.

“We’ve been impacted by the streetcar construction for the last year-and-a-half. Now, with this whole thing being dropped like a bomb, it’ll be more of a challenge for us to survive,” said Minh-Duc Nguyen, executive director of the Little Saigon-based nonprofit Helping Link.

The region’s leaders have a history of ignoring this neighborhood’s concerns, going all the way back to the construction of Interstate 5 and the Kingdome. The city’s $15 minimum-wage plan also ran roughshod over the concerns of immigrant small-business owners in Little Saigon.

Do city leaders see the bigger problem?

Many living in the encampment are working and waiting for housing that accommodates families, couples and pets to open up. These campers need proper shelters and stable housing.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, Robert J. Vickers, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).

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