LOCAL NEWS

LIHI, Nickelsville split up over Seattle homeless camp management

Apr 1, 2019, 5:07 AM | Updated: 10:13 am
tiny homes, tiny home, LIHI, tiny houses...
A line of tiny houses stand with their backs to the adjacent street at a homeless encampment in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

Two of Seattle’s most prominent homeless encampment operators are at odds. It’s led to one kicking the other out of three of Seattle’s major tent encampments.

RELATED: Homeless shelter opened in unused King County jail
RELATED: Seattle sweeps Nickelsville encampment

Low Income Housing Institute Executive Director Sharon Lee wrote to Nickelsville leaders on March 20 that it was ending its five-year relationship with the group. She cited “fundamental differences in our organizations’ approaches and aspirations.”

“While we are proud of the good work we’ve accomplished together in providing shelter and community to hundreds of people and families experiencing homelessness, it has become clear that these differences are not reconcilable,” Lee wrote.

Residents of the camps quickly responded with their own letter saying, “Please back off. Do not attempt to push us out of Nickelsville. You have no right to do so.” Nickelsville officials have further responded through their lawyer. According to Real Change, Attorney Ted Hunter wrote:

Your allegations that Nickelsville has failed to provide services and must be replaced are defamatory to the organization and, furthermore, have introduced anxiety and fear to the residents of those villages at a very vulnerable time in their lives.

Real Change further reports that residents of the camps are not being kicked out. Rather, management is changing. LIHI will no longer pay for Nickelsville staff, and provide its own personnel.

Homeless camps

LIHI began forming homeless encampments over the past couple years under a contract with the city — they are among the city’s nine authorized homeless encampments. Nickelsville was subcontracted to manage the communities (Nickelsville formed in 2008 as organized homeless communities).

Lee’s letter was sent to request a series of items and documents pertaining to the operation of the camps.

“We are giving you one week to wind down operations at Othello, Georgetown, and Northlake Villages. Provided you cooperate with us we will pay for (Nickelsville) staff and expenses through March 25,” Lee wrote.

LIHI

The main issue, according to Lee, emerged as the two parties attempted to work out a memorandum of understanding this month. LIHI wants more case management, and Nickelsville wants more self-management.

Nickelsville voted to reject LIHI’s MOU. LIHI didn’t like Nickelsville’s version. Lee wrote it undermined “key aspects of the program and our working relationship.”

Those key differences are:

  • Case management: LIHI says that Nickelsville has often been a barrier to LIHI providing case management to residents in order to move them into housing, get them health care, and other services. “Furthermore, Nickelsville staff and leadership have shown a consistent pattern of disrespectful and sometimes harmful behavior towards on-site case management staff,” Lee writes.
  • Transparency and handling of bars, incidents, and exits: “Bars” are when Nickelsville staff ban a resident from a camp for infractions. LIHI argues that bars have been used for arbitrary offenses and minor infractions — potentially for discriminatory purposes. LIHI also contends that it does not receive information on how Nickelsvilles is handling bars.
  • Staffing support for villages: LIHI objects to Nickelsville’s method of staffing, which reportedly keeps few people at the sites. LIHI feels that staff often observe incidents after they occur.

The Wallyhood blog further commented on the issue, which affects the Northlake camp near its community.

Somewhere at the root of the case management issue is a difference in philosophy between LIHI/City of Seattle and Nickelsville. The former regards the purpose of the villages as temporary housing while permanent housing is found, and the case managers a critical part of moving residents on to that permanent housing. Nickelsville, for its part, sees the villages as long-term housing for many who don’t see a path to different housing situations for themselves.

Nickelsville response

A letter from Nickelsville residents in Georgetown, Othello, Northlake, and Union was sent to LIHI in response to the split.

We came to our communities because they were Nickelsville. They operated fairly and decently and gave us many advantages. You have always claimed these communities were for us.

In fact, by trying to chase out our structure and community, you are depriving us of the major benefits in the agreements both of you have made.

Please back off. Do not attempt to push us out of Nickelsville. You have no right to do so.

A subsequent letter from Nickelsville staff member Scott Morrow to Seattle Human Services Interim Director Jason Johnson called LIHI’s claims regarding case management as “false and ridiculous.”

“You have accepted false statements from the Low Income Housing Institute and others while giving us no opportunity to know your concerns or request a response,” the letter continued.

KIRO Radio Reporter Aaron Granillo contributed to this article.

Local News

SDOT Light Rail Ped...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Pedestrian struck, injured by Link light rail train in south Seattle

A pedestrian was struck and injured by a Link light rail train Wednesday afternoon in south Seattle.
22 hours ago
(Photo courtesy of King County)...
Frank Sumrall

King County executive initiates plan to conserve and save the region’s wilderness

King County executive announced a plan to protect 65,000 acres of forests, farmland, and greenspace, raising property taxes in the process.
22 hours ago
drought...
MyNorthwest Staff

Drought may impact most of Pacific Northwest this summer

Drought is expected to impact much of the Pacific Northwest this summer, impacting areas throughout eastern Washington, southern Oregon and southern Idaho.
22 hours ago
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)...
Frank Sumrall

SPD report discovers 80% of 911 calls were for non-criminal events

After reviewing more than 1.2 million 911 calls from 2017 to 2019, the Seattle Police Department (SPD) found 79.7% of calls were for non-criminal events.
22 hours ago
...
KIRO 7 News Staff

9-year-old boy shot by younger brother in Federal Way

A 9-year-old boy was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center after being shot by his younger brother in Federal Way.
22 hours ago
The US government will fly in baby formula on commercial planes contracted by the military in an ai...
Heather Bosch

A guide to locate baby formula from Washington’s Department of Health

Washington's Department of Health has put together a list of resources to help find nutritious food to feed your newborn.
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
LIHI, Nickelsville split up over Seattle homeless camp management