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Seattle City Council votes against expanding tent cities

The Seattle City Council has narrowly rejected a proposal to increase the number of homeless tent camps around the city, dealing a blow to supporters who wanted to expand areas where camps like the controversial Nickelsville could be located.

The effort was led by Councilmember Nick Licata, who wanted to allow city and private lands to also host the camps. Currently, only churches and other faith-based organizations can host the encampments.

But Councilmembers Sally Clark, Jean Godden, Tim Burgess, Richard Conlin and Tom Rasmussen voted against the proposal, saying it’s not an acceptable solution to the homeless problem in the city.

“I have argued it’s not a solution, but it’s another opportunity to find 24-7 shelter for people who have no roof over their head,” Licata tells KIRO Radio.

“We have been trying stop-gap measures since I have been on the city council and they don’t work,” Rasmussen countered. “They are ineffective and we need to try real measures and put our focus and our priorities in those measures and that’s what I support.”

With the defeat, Licata says he’s very worried about what happens to the people currently living in Nickelsville, the illegal tent city ordered shut down by the council Sept. 1.

“A number of us have concerns about what happens to those we can’t place in shelters or housing,” he said. “They will probably end up sleeping under the viaduct or in greenbelt areas in the city.”

A proposal by Licata to delay Monday’s vote until after completion of a report on Nickelsville relocation efforts also failed.

“Having a safe encampment is better than leaving people on the street,” said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, one of four voting in favor of the measure.

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