Elimination of downtown Seattle homeless camp ends as City Hall park closes

Street and sidewalk closures in and around Seattle City Hall Park began Friday morning, as efforts to clear a homeless camp came to an end.

Chronic homelessness reaches crisis levels in King County

Efforts to clean up the park began in earnest on Tuesday, with around 78 people referred to services on Thursday afternoon. Twenty-nine of them were placed in hotel shelters facilitated by the JustCARE program. Another 21 were placed in improved shelters, 10 were sent to tiny host villages, eight were referred to additional city-run hotel shelters, and seven received approval for small-scale shelter spaces. houses or hotels “nearby”.

Another person accepted “diversion resources to relocate out of state”. Three people did not accept the accommodation offers and instead chose to “settle down on their own”.

A notice issued earlier this week gave people camping in the area until 7:30 a.m. on Friday to remove all of their personal belongings. A subsequent notice was issued by the city announcing the closure of the park, as well as several surrounding streets, alleys and sidewalks to allow “repairs and restoration”. The closures include the South Crosswalk of Fourth Avenue and Jefferson Street, sidewalks around City Hall Park, crosswalks leading into the area, lanes bordering Fourth Avenue and Yesler Way, and Dilling Way (with its corner parking lot).

These closings began at 6 a.m. on Friday. Once fences are fully installed around the park, sidewalks and crosswalks will reopen “unless necessary fences prevent their use.” The park itself will remain closed for approximately 2-3 months. County and city officials “will then continue to work closely on long-term plans for the park’s post-closure.”

Police officers from Seattle also arrived at the park on Friday morning, pushing “Stop the Sweep Seattle” protesters out of the area as work continued to clear the few remaining tents.

Over the past few weeks, JustCARE program workers have conducted assessments, facilitated engagement and “created individualized plans” for 52 homeless people in the City Hall Park Encampment. This outreach work ended at the end of last week. “Almost everyone” is expected to have voluntarily accepted the accommodation offers, according to King County officials.

JustCARE works as a collaboration between the city and a coalition of businesses, service providers and outreach teams who work together to bring homeless people into housing, while aiming to keep public spaces out of the way. camps without involving the police. The program was recently successful along Third Avenue in downtown Seattle, where the tents were cleaned, the street cleaned, and 33 people who lived on the streets in the area were voluntarily moved to shelters for the homeless. – shelter available.

Seattle’s two new homeless shelters are now officially open

The group is operating as an alternative to what has been a more siled approach to tackling homelessness, while also addressing concerns about the role of police in sweeping encampments. JustCARE’s work has also been supported by an increase in the number of new hotel accommodation spaces in Seattle and King County, which have accommodated at least 15 people who previously camped along Third Avenue.

City Hall Park represents an important test case for JustCARE, given recent security concerns expressed by employees at the nearby King County courthouse. County Council Member Reagan Dunn had previously called on the city to condemn the park as a danger to public safety. After clearing the park this week, Dunn said he was “cautiously optimistic.”

“The measures taken to finally clean up the city hall park respect the right of everyone to have a reasonable expectation of safety in and around a public building,” he said in a statement. “Given the recent assaults and homicides, it could very well save lives and prevent further trauma. This is real progress. “

The King County Superior Court also praised this week’s efforts in a statement.

“This is an important step towards improving security for all, maintaining essential access to our justice system and ensuring that the Court is able to fulfill our constitutional mandates,” said the Acting Presiding Judge Patrick Oishi.

Compassion Seattle also released a statement on Friday’s action:

“We applaud the success of JustCARE in bringing people inside Seattle’s City Hall Park by providing housing and support services to those living without shelter. Over 70 people have been successfully referred for housing and shelter options. The success of JustCARE is clear: when homeless people are offered housing, shelter and comprehensive services tailored to their needs, they accept it. This is yet another example of what the implementation of Charter Amendment 29 will look like when it is approved by voters in Seattle in November. Charter Amendment 29 calls on Seattle government leaders, in cooperation with the Regional Homelessness Authority, to prioritize housing, services and personal awareness to tackle homelessness in our parks and other spaces public.