Today, Mayor Ed Murray announced the initial members of the task force convened to review the City’s encampment cleanup policies and related practices, including those developed under the 2008 Multi-Departmental Administrative Rules (MDAR). As Mayor Murray wrote in a July letter announcing the task force to City Council, there are improvements to be made that will enable the City to do better for individuals experiencing homelessness. The task force is part of the City’s active efforts to address homelessness through providing key harm reduction services such as portable restrooms and dumpsters at encampments, working with partners to ensure ongoing, intensive outreach, and future services like the Navigation Center. In the interim, Mayor Murray is announcing a series of steps to help ensure cleanups, some of which are conducted by state and other local governments, are conducted in consistent way.
“It is our responsibility to ensure these cleanups are done right and done in a way that serves the needs of people living in these areas, who are enduring extremely difficult circumstances,” said Mayor Murray. “We recognize the protocol under which cleanups are conducted needs both improvement and clarity. Reports from some of the encampments are examples of how we need to ensure better coordination among all those involved, continue to emphasize intensive outreach, and address deficiencies where they arise, and we are committed to doing that. Both significant public safety and public health issues necessitate the City continue responding to unsanctioned encampments, so we need to get it right.”
The task force, convened with Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, is charged with giving recommendations on improving the City’s response to unsanctioned encampments, which are slated to be finalized by the end of September. Members include: Co-Chairs Sally Clark and David Moseley; Ballard Chamber of Commerce; InterIm CDA; SODO Business Improvement Area; Alliance for Pioneer Square; All Home King County; Downtown Emergency Services Center; REACH Program of Evergreen Treatment Services; and Health Care for the Homeless Network. Invitations have also been extended to the American Civil Liberties Union and Columbia Legal Services.
In the interim, the mayor is announcing the following actions for cleanups led by the City and occurring under the encampment cleanup protocols:
- Today, Mayor Murray will be speaking with Secretary Millar at WSDOT, to extend an invitation to join the City’s task force and discuss further state cleanups in Seattle.
- While the task force completes its work, a representative from the Office for Civil Rights will attend each cleanup to monitor them based on the below requirements, satisfy that all outreach has been completed, and ensure residents are receiving safe storage of their belongings.
- Seattle’s more holistic approach means extensive outreach is completed before the cleanup, including in the preceding 72 hours. Outreach workers will continue to be on site at the beginning of each cleanup, along with the work crews and the above noted monitor. No cleanup will occur if this cannot be achieved.
The City will implement these actions effective immediately and until the task force makes recommendations and the legislation is passed by City Council.