Seattle clears Ballard Commons homeless camp, relocates 66 into shelter options

Dec 7, 2021, 11:41 AM | Updated: 1:57 pm

The City of Seattle has officially closed the Ballard Commons for damage assessment, with Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) crews installing fencing around the park until maintenance concludes.

In the process, the city’s Human Services Department (HSD), in partnership with community organizers, relocated “at least 66 people” into low income housing or shelter options.

“In August we created a census of everyone living in the park, in September we created a needs assessment to match people with shelter that was right for them, and in October we began moving people inside. We continued moving people inside in November and December, and this is how we can remove an encampment without pushing people down the street or into the neighborhood,” Councilmember Dan Strauss wrote in a statement.

HSD’s Homelessness Outreach and Provider Ecosystem (HOPE) Team was successful in relocating 60 individuals from the commons into 24/7 enhanced shelters with wraparound onsite services, which will include case management and housing navigation intended to help end individual homelessness. Another four people were referred to housing. The remaining two used either Diversion or supportive services as they were relocated out of the Ballard Commons.

The aforementioned community organizers include REACH, Catholic Community Services, DESC’s HOST, the Scofflaw Mitigation Team, the Ballard Alliance, the HOPE Team, SPR, and Councilmember Strauss.

“The strong partnership between the Mayor’s office, Councilmember Strauss, REACH, key City departments and the Ballard Alliance provided an intensive and thoughtful outreach process that has resulted in a successful transition of unhoused individuals living in Ballard Commons Park into appropriate, needs-based housing and shelter options,” wrote Ballard Alliance Executive Director Mike Stewart in a statement.

“We are very appreciative of the City’s intensive work over the past eight weeks to address the needs of unhoused individuals living in Ballard Commons Park and, at the same time, address the needs of surrounding businesses and residents,” he added. “We look forward to the rehabilitation of Ballard Commons Park, a vital amenity for the community that provides much-needed green space within a dense, residential environment.”

As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6, the city reports that its HOPE Team identified three people residing onsite who have not yet accepted shelter offers.

Years-long saga of Ballard Commons homeless encampment ends, but why now?

The encampment removal marks another success in the city’s work to expand its human outreach efforts, relocating homeless individuals into shelters with access to wraparound services.

Seattle reports that its HOPE Team has made over 1,000 shelter referrals since the year’s start, among 105 citywide encampments. This fall, Seattle has opened over 350 new shelter spaces, and anticipates another 2,837 by year’s end, a 530 unit increase over pre-pandemic levels.

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Seattle clears Ballard Commons homeless camp, relocates 66 into shelter options