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Mayor Durkan says Seattle school district needs to ‘step up’ and move encampment

Homeless encampment at the park attached to Broadview-Thomson K-8. (KTTH/Jason Rantz)

Who is responsible for cleaning up the homeless encampment next to Broadview-Thomson K-8 in Seattle? According to the city, it’s the school district’s problem.

Teacher at Seattle school near encampment is fighting for ‘safety of our students’

As part of the “Seattle Rescue Plan,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is announcing a nearly $50 million investment in permanent housing, enhanced shelters, and homeless services using federal COVID-19 relief funds.

But she’s still doubling down on the “your property, your problem” approach when it comes to the encampment near the North Seattle school.

At a news conference last week touting the Seattle Rescue Plan, a $128 million federal COVID recovery package, Durkan was asked by a reporter if it makes sense for schools to be responsible for providing homeless services in cases where an encampment is on district property.

The exact question was: Does it really make sense for the city to tell the school district that they need to provide services to unsheltered people?

“We’ve had a long, robust conversation with the school district,” Durkan replied. “They’re a billion dollar organization with funds and resources; the person who wrote the process for the city’s approach [to homelessness] now works for the school district as the lawyer; they have someone who works for FEMA. We’re working with them so that they can stand up their own process, and I hope that they are able to take that approach.”

“I think that if they follow what we’ve been able to do in many places, using city properties and city resources, that you can have a very compassion-based outreach, and you can also move an encampment that has a particular public health or safety risk,” she continued. “And so the school district needs to step up. We are there to help and assist them, but they cannot shirk their obligations and duties for school property.”

She says it’s imposed not just by law, but also by what parents and families expect.

King County Human Services head: Housing homeless in hotels is a ‘faster, cheaper’ solution

KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show discussed this issue and Durkan’s response:

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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