City clears homeless encampment near Seattle middle school

Apr 14, 2021, 1:20 PM | Updated: Apr 16, 2021, 5:46 pm
Miller Park homeless encampment...
A homeless encampment at Miller Park near Meany Middle School. (Photo: Jason Rantz)
(Photo: Jason Rantz)

Seattle city officials have completely cleared a homeless encampment previously located at Miller Playfield near Capitol Hill’s Meany Middle School.

Why are there no homeless camps in Bellevue public parks?

A notice was posted on Wednesday ordering anyone camped out in the area to “remove all personal property” by 9 a.m. on Friday. Then on Thursday, the mayor’s office released an update saying that 30 people who had been camped out in Miller Park had been successfully referred to shelter.

On Friday morning, city staff and contracted outreach workers arrived at the park, and contacted with eight additional people on-site. Of those, five had previously been living in the encampment, while three were said to have “arrived more recently.”

Workers offered shelter to all eight people — two declined the officer and “left the park voluntarily.”

When it was all said and done, the city reported referrals to 41 unhoused campers since March 26, all but one of whom chose to be relocated to newly-opened Executive Hotel Pacific shelter spaces. One other person accepted a referral to a tiny home shelter.

These efforts came in the wake of growing concerns over the proximity of the camp to Meany Middle School with students returning to in-person instruction on Monday.

In early April, the camp had grown to over 40 tents. Further controversy developed when emails obtained by KTTH’s Jason Rantz Show revealed that Seattle School Board members had petitioned the city not to sweep the encampment.

That was outlined in a joint statement from Board President Chandra Hampson and Director Zachary DeWolf, where they said that sweeps should “NEVER be performed on school grounds, adjacent or elsewhere in this City.”

Opinion: Seattle homeless camp sweeps are built to fail

Seattle Fire Department responders were dispatched to the Miller Park area 23 times between Oct. 1, 2020, and April 5, 2021, according to data provided by the city, 14 of which “were for illegal burns or tent fires.”

Efforts to relocate the camp’s residents increased in recent weeks, with Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office saying that the city had “requested that outreach efforts at Miller Park intensify with the goal of getting all who are onsite situated into a shelter and on a path towards permanent housing.”

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City clears homeless encampment near Seattle middle school