Seattle Mayor Ed Murray on Thursday announced the sites of three new, authorized homeless encampments, in Licton Springs and Georgetown and on Myers Way South.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray on Thursday announced three of the four sites where he wants to place new, authorized homeless encampments of tents and tiny houses.
The three sites will serve more than 200 starting early next year and will be in Georgetown, Licton Springs and on Myers Way South between White Center, Highland Park and South Park, Murray said.
There already are three authorized homeless encampments in Seattle — in Ballard, Interbay and Rainier Valley. The city helped open those in late 2015 and early this year.
Some neighbors protested the siting of the first three encampments, with the Ballard location causing the greatest uproar. But opposition has died down since they opened.
That plan, which Murray said would address the needs of people living without shelter in the short term while the city moves to reform its homeless-services system, also includes tripling the number of outreach workers assigned to connect with people living in illegal camps. Such camps have proliferated across the city in recent years.
With his plan — composed of actions he says he can take unilaterally, under his executive authority — the mayor wants to put an end to a City Council ordinance initially proposed in August by the American Civil Liberties Union, Columbia Legal Services and other groups that advocate for the rights of people who are homeless.
The details of the ordinance were in flux through October, when the council shelved the issue to work on the city’s budget. But the aim was to give new legal protections to people camping without permission on Seattle property by adding requirements for when and how the city can evict them and clear away their things.
While Murray’s plan would update protocols for clearing camps and ramp up collections of trash and needles, it wouldn’t go as far as a version of the council ordinance championed by Councilmember Mike O’Brien.
Now that the council has approved the city’s new budget, members plan to again turn to the issue of homeless camps. Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, who chairs the council’s human-services committee, has signaled support for Murray’s plan.
The exact locations of the sites are, according to the mayor’s office: 1000 S. Myrtle St. in Georgetown, 8620 Nesbit Ave. N. in Licton Springs, and 9701 Myers Way S. There’s no fourth site yet, the mayor’s office said.
The Licton Springs and Georgetown encampments will each contain up to 50 tiny houses and serve 60 to 70 people, while the Myers Way South encampment will contain up to 50 tents and also serve 60 to 70 people, Murray’s office said.
The Georgetown site, owned by the city, is adjacent to Fire Station 27. The Licton Springs site is located just off Aurora Avenue North on property owned by the nonprofit Low Income Housing Institute. The Myers Way South site is on city greenbelt land where people experiencing homelessness began camping over the summer. The Licton Springs site will have minimal entry requirements in order to better serve people suffering from substance-abuse disorders and behavioral disorders, Murray’s office said.
There will be community meetings for each site in January, the office said.
Councilmember Debra Juarez, whose District 5 includes Licton Springs, says she welcomes the encampment.
“At a time when over 2,000 people are unsheltered in the city, now is the time to show compassion and determination to find stable solutions,” Juarez said.
She said the Licton Springs encampment is expected to open in about March, “which gives us time to have conversations and address questions from the community.”
Steve Dahl, a Vietnam War-era veteran who’s been sleeping in a tent since August, when he moved to Seattle from Wisconsin to be near a niece, says authorized encampments make sense but are no panacea.
The 61-year-old has been working as a day laborer and he says he’d rather keep his own company until the social worker he’s been meeting with can place him in housing.
Dahl doesn’t mind other vets but says “you have the street people and the drug people — they don’t want a house.” Most shelters are out of the question because sleeping in a crowded room reminds him of a military career he found traumatic.
When the city on Wednesday told Dahl and a dozen others to quit a spot under a bridge near Safeco Field, he says he simply moved his tent a short distance away.