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Homeless encampment near North Seattle school will be allowed to remain

A locked gate surrounding a North Seattle homeless encampment. (Deedee Sun, KIRO 7)

A homeless encampment near a North Seattle K-8 school will be allowed to remain, at least for now, with students set to return to in-person instruction on Monday, April 19.

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The encampment composed of roughly 40 tents is situated on an adjacent property directly behind Broadview-Thomson K-8, just north of Seattle’s Bitter Lake neighborhood.

According to Seattle Public Schools, the camp “is not on school grounds, but on district property that is separated from the school with a secure fence.” Given its proximity to the school, students, families, and staffs are being asked to enter and exit facilities from a separate entrance along Greenwood Avenue.

A gate separating the encampment from the school has also been locked, and will remain that way “for the time being.”

SPS noted in a Thursday statement to KIRO Radio that it believes that “simply removing them from district property won’t result in a permanent solution,” given that the campers often “move between city and district owned properties.”

“We continue to coordinate with the city, building staff, and families to implement long-term solutions that prioritize the well-being of our school community and care for unhoused residents,” SPS spokesperson Tim Robinson said.

On a larger scale, Seattle School Board leaders have been adamant in its opposition to the removal of homeless camps. That was outlined in a joint statement from Board President Chandra Hampson and Director Zachary DeWolf in early April, where they said that sweeps should “NEVER be performed on school grounds, adjacent or elsewhere in this City.”

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This comes amid city-led efforts to remove a separate homeless camp near Capitol Hill’s Meany Middle School. On Wednesday, notices were posted ordering residents to “remove all personal property” from the area by 9 a.m. on Friday, April 16.

“At Meany Middle School, we have been working with the city to encourage a compassionate transition to shelter for people living on adjacent city property, improving signage that highlights camping prohibitions on district property, and creating buffers on school grounds,” Robinson said.

City outreach workers say that “all residents of Miller Park have been offered shelter” as of this week. That includes space at the city’s low-barrier Navigation Center enhanced shelter, Jan & Peter’s Place Women’s Shelter, the Executive Hotel Pacific, and “occasional availability at tiny home villages.”

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