Efforts to block removal of Seattle homeless camp hit sixth day

Feb 25, 2022, 10:56 AM
Removal homeless camp Seattle...
A homeless camp in downtown Seattle. (KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

An effort to stop the removal of a homeless camp outside Seattle City Hall is now on its sixth day.

‘We’re here to stay’: Activists continue to block removal of Seattle homeless camp

The camp is located on Fourth Avenue between James and Columbia, where the city posted a notice of the upcoming removal last Friday. After the notice was posted, activists with a group known as Stop the Sweeps Seattle organized mutual aid volunteers to “show up and push back” on Sunday, holding the area for hours and refusing to allow city workers in to remove tents.

Activists have remained in the area ever since while fielding and distributing donations of hot food, warm clothes, bottled water, and more.

When city crews first arrived to remove the encampment last Sunday, shelter referrals were not offered, with no prior outreach conducted. Mayor Bruce Harrell’s office has since pointed out “there is no requirement for offers of shelter when an encampment is creating an obstruction.”

In the meantime, the arrival of record freezing temperatures has all planned encampment removals paused until cold weather shelters close on Monday morning, according to a spokesperson for Harrell. That had the city’s HOPE Team — which coordinates outreach and service referrals — “offering connections to services and shelter” at the city hall camp on Thursday, having facilitated three referrals to enhanced shelter spaces.

Coalition of businesses to put $10 million into Seattle homeless outreach

Encampments that aren’t causing obstructions are subject to a 72-hour removal notice, and must have outreach workers present to offer shelter and services. But as Seattle’s Human Services Department revealed in 2020, the city has frequently adopted a broad definition regarding what it defines as an obstructive camp, estimating at the time that it had applied that label to roughly 96% of removals.

Moving forward, Stop the Sweeps has vowed to remain in the area “until these folks get the housing and services that they deserve.” Once the pause on removals is lifted at the start of next week, the city plans to resume efforts to clear the camp, noting that it “remains on the list for resolution.”

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Efforts to block removal of Seattle homeless camp hit sixth day