City Leads Efforts to Identify Alternative Solutions for Unauthorized Encampments

Seattle, WA — Today, John Okamoto, Seattle Human Services Interim Director, announced several of the City’s key accomplishments in identifying viable alternatives for unauthorized encampment sites throughout the City including Brooklyn Avenue and NE Ravenna Boulevard.

“The efforts to the address the immediate and basic needs of the individuals at various encampment sites, are consistent with Mayor Ed Murray’s desire to address the roughly 2,300 individuals who go unsheltered in Seattle every night, said John Okamoto, Seattle Human Services Director. “The City has responded to each of these unique situations with both compassion and pragmatism, as well as an unprecedented level of engagement and facilitation by Human Services Department staff”.

The University District community was successful in identifying an alternative location for individuals that were staying in an unauthorized encampment on Brooklyn Avenue through the assistance of several neighborhood groups, including the University District Partnership, University Congregational United Church of Christ and the University of Washington.

The City has also played an active role in facilitating conversations with Tent City 3 and potential site sponsors. Since vacating their authorized site at Haller Lake United Methodist Church, some Tent City 3 residents have been camping without permission on State owned property on NE Ravenna Boulevard until they could solidify a new site sponsor. Seattle Pacific University is working the City’s Department of Planning and Development to permit space on their campus by early December. The City is also working with Washington State Department of Transportation, the property owner, to facilitate their stay until Seattle Pacific University is prepared to host Tent City 3.

The City has also agreed to offer the Northwest Rooms as temporary shelter space for the first 20 days of November. This is in response to a request from WHEEL to use the rooms as shelter space while Plymouth Congregational Church, the historic site for a women’s shelter, is under construction until the end of December. The Northwest Rooms at the Seattle Center are used by the City as an extreme weather shelter option but since Seattle does not typically experience extreme weather until late November, the City has agreed to offer the space as temporary shelter space until then.

Regarding the unauthorized encampment in north Seattle’s Northacres Park, HSD’s contracted outreach workers are redoubling efforts to find alternative shelter options for the campers at the site as well as providing referrals to hygiene services, treatment providers and other social services.

Earlier this month, Mayor Ed Murray formed the Emergency Task Force on Unsheltered Homelessness. Led by Deputy Mayor, Hyeok Kim, this group is tasked with making recommendations by December 15th to help the growing number of people who are living on the streets to find shelter during the coming winter. The emergency task force will also review the City’s current policy on authorized homeless encampments and will include an assessment of where encampments are located, how new sites for legal encampments are identified and how neighborhoods are consulted.