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North Seattle family scared for safety with encampment on their fence line

A homeless encampment in a North Seattle residential neighborhood. (KIRO 7 TV)

A North Seattle resident and mom who frequently takes care of young children spoke to KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show about a homeless encampment just on the other side of her backyard fence. This group of tents has now been there for more than year.

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“We’ve lived here 17 years and never seen this problem before, until March 20 when the pandemic of course also hit,” Christel Peterson said. “We just have felt locked in to this very scary situation right on our fence line.”

Peterson has two teenage daughters, and says she frequently cares for her friends’ young kids, a 1-year-old and a 4-year old. Right on the other side of her wooden fence, there are eight tents.

“We’ve got eight tents right up against our fence that’s barely holding together,” she said. “And people inside those tents are on drugs, doing drugs, dealing drugs, very quiet a good amount of the time, but then there’s those moments when they are not quiet and it gets very concerning with the escalating profanity, the arguing.”

“This weekend, in fact, I think it hit a climax because one individual in particular [was] yelling death threats, ‘I’m going to kill you, I’m going to kill you,’ and profanity every other word. It just feels very unsafe, very concerning,” Peterson said.

She says she’s seen a man holding a gun that looked like a real gun but sounded like a BB gun who was shooting at a target on the ground, and she’s seen people throwing knives.

KIRO 7 TV reported on this encampment as well and showed an arrow that somebody had fired into an apartment building nearby that had stuck into a wall.

“That’s just behind us, correct,” Peterson said about where the arrow hit. “It could have gone our direction easily. And it was witnessed that someone there had a bow prior to the incident occurring. It’s scary.”

Peterson says she’s reached out more than once to the city, to Seattle City Councilmember Debora Juarez, and to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.

“I believe the city needs to act right away on our behalf,” she said.

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For now, she says she brings her kids inside the house when it gets heated and she calls 911.

“I’m pretty exhausted calling 911, in fact. I’d like actually the Police Chief of Seattle to help us out here with this nuisance property. This is a chronic nuisance property,” she said. “And we are not getting heard or responded to our concern. There’s crime here. There’s a huge list of things that is very concerning — suspicious activity, theft, drug dealing.”

“The unstable people there make us feel very concerned,” she added. “And we would like them to get some help. We’d like them to get help to turn their lives around. We’ve had services out here trying. …
We’ve had at the HOPE team last week here, which is a huge big step, we know. The customer service bureau’s aware of our concerns. The city’s aware through emails, but I just feel really stuck.”

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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