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Officials hope to have homeless camp next to Bitter Lake school cleared by September

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

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) announced Thursday evening that it intends to have a homeless camp neighboring Broadview-Thomson K-8 cleared by September.

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That announcement came during a lengthy community meeting at the school involving 75 neighborhood residents and families. During the meeting, SPS laid out plans to partner with a local nonprofit known as Anything Helps.

The group has reportedly already “done an initial assessment” of the encampment, determining that work to provide assistance and shelter placement for those in the area will likely be completed by the start of September, coinciding with the start of the new school year.

The camp has been a flashpoint for Bitter Lake parents and residents for months, comprised of over 40 tents situated on an adjacent property directly behind Broadview-Thomson K-8.

Over the course of two months during the spring, the school was put on lockdown at least twice — once in April after a firearm sighting, which turned out to be a pellet gun and led to no injuries, and again in May after a worker saw someone inside that he didn’t think should be in the school. There was also an overdose at the encampment, though the man survived.

Meanwhile, Seattle School Board leaders have been adamant in their opposition to sweeping campers out of the area without first ensuring they’ll be able to place them in available shelters. 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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Later on in the month, Seattle Public Schools affirmed that position, stating 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.”

The hope now is that with the assistance of volunteers from Anything Helps, campers can be relocated to available shelter spaces and pointed toward other resources. The organization is currently accepting volunteers and, according to SPS, saw “many of those who attended the meeting last night” at Broadview-Thomson sign up.

“We are very grateful for any assistance anyone in the community can contribute,” SPS spokesperson Tim Robinson told MyNorthwest.

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