Seattle clears out large swath of land under West Seattle Bridge
Update on Spokane Street homeless camp cleanup:
A total of 35 people have now accepted alternative shelter after Seattle’s Navigation Team moved through a stretch of Spokane Street under the West Seattle Bridge.
Crews are moving out campers and installing fence to deter camps in the future.
On Monday, the city made one last effort to provide outreach to the people living under the bridge. On Tuesday, crews began clearing out the first of four zones. A total of 14 people of the 56 campers in the area accepted services from the city. This includes going to shelters. Other campers had previously accepted help in the weeks prior.
The city stored belongings of the campers for picking up later, including one bike and eight bins of clothing.
There were 17 abandoned tents in the first zone. Crews cleaned up garbage and bio-waste. A specialized crew was called in to handle one area filled with “large amounts” human waste and dead rats, according to the city.
On Wednesday, the city conducted further outreach with people in the other three zones slated for cleanup. No one had returned to the previously cleaned location, which was fenced off.
Seattle’s next target for homeless camp sweeps is along Spokane Street under the West Seattle Bridge.
The city say camping there is illegal. It plans to move through Spokane Street between Airport Way and Colorado Avenue. The sweeps began Tuesday.
The stretch of roadway straddles the city’s industrial district and SODO. The sweep comes after months of outreach by the city’s Navigation Team. The city expects the cleanup to last over the coming week and part of next week.
This is the same area where RVs have burned down over the past year. After two RVs caught fire in April, city officials moved out the neighboring encampment known as “Trollsville” near the east end of Spokane Street.
According to the city’s crime dashboard, the area around the bridge (SODO) has had problems with theft, relative to other crimes in the area. A total of 235 thefts have been reported since the beginning of 2017. There have been 37 reports of aggravated assault and 21 reports of robbery.
With nearly four months left in the year, that is still considerably fewer crimes reported over the past couple years — 350 thefts in 2016 and 507 thefts in 2015.
Spokane Street plan
The plan is to move campers in four phases: Airport Way to Sixth Avenue; Sixth Avenue to Fourth Avenue; Fourth Avenue to Second Avenue; and Second Avenue to Colorado Avenue. After the city clears out an encampment, it plans to fence off the area to discourage further camping.
At the same time, the city has opened a new 100-bed shelter on First Hill at the The First Presbyterian Church. The 24-hour shelter is for men and women, their pets and possessions. The shelter is the result of a $1.3 million grant from the city to the Compass Housing Alliance.
The new facility at the church is designed to be low-barrier to allow people to stay longer and have access to case management. The shelter began accepting 10 people per day on Sept. 1.
The effort along Spokane Street comes one year after Seattle conducted a similar sweep of the infamous Jungle homeless encampment under parts of I-5 and I-90. Campers in that area were also offered services before being moved out of the encampment.