Article 43

 

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Homeless In Seattle

seattle homeless sweep

Joe Biden went off-script said the quiet part out loud: This crisis is a genuine opportunity ... an opportunity to do things we wanted to do, he said of the environment.
- Biden Does His Creepy Whisper Thing Again ...Then Starts Shouting in Earth Day Remarks

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Homeless camp removal outside Seattle City Hall draws strong, divided reactions

By Scott Greenstone
Settle Times
March 9, 2022

Wayne Kirk woke up at 6:30 this morning and left the encampment across from City Hall where hes been staying for the last month and a half.

When he came back at 7 a.m., he saw notices posted saying work crews would come at 8 a.m. to force everyone out of the camp and remove trash and belongings.

He went to sleep and awoke an hour later to shouting: Police and cleanup crews from Seattle Parks and Recreation had arrived. A spokesperson for the city said notices were actually posted at 6 a.m.

City employees removed two blocks’ worth of tents and belongings Wednesday morning after those few hours notice - an unusual practice for an encampment with so many people. The city usually provides at least 48 hours notice. Over the last year, a long-term, unhurried approach had become more common - AND SUPPORTED BROADLY BY CIRT COUNCIL MEMBERS AND BUSINESS ASSOCIATES - for larger encampments.

A spokesperson for Mayor Bruce Harrell said seven people were moved into shelters out of 16 total.

The clearing marked the end of a 2 1/2 week standoff between the mayor and activists with the Stop the Sweeps campaign, who occupied the camp and stayed in shifts to keep homeless people from being moved.

It also comes as the city prepares to bring employees back into the office March 16 and downtown businesses set similar timelines. The increased focus on the commercial core of Seattle has come alongside plans to get people living downtown out of there.

“We appreciate the concerted effort of the city and county over the last several weeks to get chronically homeless people in downtown inside and connected to services,” the Downtown Seattle Association said in a statement. “As we work toward downtown’s recovery, its important to keep the busiest sidewalks in the city open and accessible to all.”

As Harrell has ramped up removals this year in a fulfillment of campaign promises to crack down on visible homeless encampments, Stop the Sweeps activists have shown up to help people move their tents and belongings.

Harrell won the election last year by a commanding margin with a promise to take decisive action to open thousands of new units of shelter and get rid of the encampments accumulating around the city.

But to the protesters, who angrily watched from behind police tape as the camp they’d tried to protect was removed Wednesday, the removal is a symbol that Harrell cares more about optics - particularly outside his office window than helping people.

It is unclear whether activists will continue to stage long-term protests at large encampments as removals become more common.

The protest, the suddenness of the City Hall action, as well as the PRESENCE OF POLICE OFFICERS AND A GARBAGE TRUCK, call back to a more contentious pre-pandemic approach to ENTRENCHED HOMELESS CAMPS.

“The site has been on the list for resolution for weeks,” Harrell’s spokesperson wrote in an email, but also said that per the city’s rules for removals, “tents, other structures and personal property left in the right of way are subject to immediate removal if they create an obstruction or present public health or safety risks that prevent pedestrians and vehicles from safely using the sidewalk or other rights of way,” so the speedy notice was justified.

The removal was originally scheduled for Feb. 20 and notice was posted roughly 48 hours in advance, but when protesters showed up that morning, they decided to occupy the camp with the homeless residents and refuse to leave, one of the organizers, Jay Jones, said.

“We had talked with a few residents ahead of time who’d said, ‘Im just not going to move,’” Jones said.

“When that kept city employees from clearing the encampment, the activists started staying in shifts - for the first few nights, a few camped there, and then from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.,” Jones said.

Knowing they couldn’t hold it forever, the activists also tried to work with campers to get them into housing through their own channels. Jones said the activists got “more than five but less than 10” campers into housing in the last two weeks, and stressed that this removal is interrupting that work.

Kirk, who has a room at a low-income housing program but won’t stay there because it doesn’t allow his wife to stay with him, said the volunteers were helping him get a marriage license.

But the activists grew weary as the weeks drew on and they were spread thin by doing the same at other removals downtown. This week, they stayed only between 8 a.m. and noon. When they showed up Wednesday morning, police had beat them to the encampment.

Harrell has consistently talked about compassion and political unity, and his lieutenants have overseen a return to the status quo of speedy camp removals that homeless advocates decried.

The day before the removal, Harrell said in a press conference that the city was “not trying to strong-arm our way back to safety.”

“I want the city clean. I want it safe,” Harrell said. “I’m in here for the long game to rehabilitate Seattle. IҒm here for the long game, and you don’t emphasize a strategy in the long game by creating chaos and anger in the city. This is one Seattle, and I ask those with perhaps intolerance of what you see, bear with me.”

But most voting Seattleites likely agree with Harrell’s approach. He beat challenger M. Lorena Gonzlez, who agreed with calls to “stop the sweeps,” by ONE OF THE LARGEST MARGINS IN A MAYORAL RACE SINCE 1997.

SOURCE

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Two Homeless Camps Removed Ahead of President Joe Biden’s Seattle Visit

By Mandel Ngan
The Chronicle
April 23, 2022

The city of Seattle cleared two homeless encampments within a few blocks of the Westin Seattle this week in anticipation of President Joe Biden’s visit.

Biden visited Seattle on Earth Day, in part to sign an executive order at Seward Park aimed at protecting old-growth forests from the ravages of wildfires. He also touched on ever-rising health care and prescription drug costs as a driver of booming inflation in a speech at Green River College in Auburn.

His visit caused traffic snarls around the county and large gatherings of people who wanted to see or protest the president.

It also spurred Mayor Bruce Harrell to remove about 15 people from the two downtown encampments where they had been living, according to Jamie Housen, spokesperson for the mayor’s office.

Housen said that the people living there were to leave so that the city could close the streets and limit access to sidewalks to ensure the safety of the president. The mayor’s office said that staff were unaware of Biden’s exact travel routes and timing.

Seattle Parks and Recreation staff gave two days’ notice that any remaining belongings must be removed by Thursday.

Housen said that nine tents and shelter structures were removed from Virginia Street to Olive Way between Sixth and Fifth avenues. Three people staying there left on their own and four others were referred to shelter by the city’s encampment outreach team.

Four tents were removed between Lenora and Virginia streets, from Fifth Avenue to Fourth Avenue. Four people there left voluntarily and two others were referred to shelters.

Several other encampments were also cleared this week, including one at Thorndyke Park. Housen said those were unrelated to Biden’s visit.

However, the reduced visibility of one of the region’s top issues rubbed some the wrong way.

Executive director of the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness Alison Eisinger denounced the city’s decision to remove the camps.

She said the city needs a “better planned” and “genuinely helpful” approach to addressing encampments, and criticized Harrell’s approach. She said that residents of camps should be given more forewarning that the city plans to make them move, and that it disrupts homeless people’s ability to stay connected to social services.

“Attempting to justify these harmful actions because of a presidential visit is shameful,” Eisinger said.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 04/24/22 •
Section Dying America
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