City of Seattle says current Ballard safe RV lot won’t last past August
The City of Seattle said Wednesday that the current Ballard safe RV lot for the homeless will shut down at the beginning of August because the land is owned by SPU and is needed for another project.
Whether Ballard gets another lot—or whether the city will see another safe RV lot — is up in the air due to the high costs and so far, unanswered questions about the site’s effectiveness, KIRO 7 reports.
The city is spending $50 million in 2016 for homelessness services, and the cost of sustaining one or more safe lots in the long term is expensive.
The current safe lot in Ballard at the Yankee Diner is a fenced-off lot with bathroom, garbage service and 24-hour security. To park there, people have to agree not to use drugs or be violent and have to work with a case worker.
The lot cost about $25,000 to set up and about $35,000 to run on a regular basis.
The city’s two RV safe zones, which don’t have the same services, cost about $10,000 a month combined.
Now, with the August shutdown looming, the city is examining how effective the safe lot and safe zones have been at getting people into housing and whether it’s worth setting up more.
Seattle is also paying three private cleaning companies to pick up needles and waste left by homeless encampments.
They charge about $240 an hour and the city has used them on 12 occasions so far, ranging from an hour to a half-day. In most cases, it’s after city agencies have reached out to the inhabitants and the police have finally needed to force them out. However, in some cases, they work to do some clean up around existing homeless encampments.
The Mayor’s Office said on Wednesday that the city council is currently considering a proposal to fund the new position of a Director of Homelessness, who would be responsible for strategizing and overseeing the city’s homelessness response and would be paid between $97,00 and $160,000 a year.