Parents protest Ship Canal Bridge encampment near school

Mar 17, 2023, 1:15 PM | Updated: 5:52 pm

A group of parents is demanding action from the state regarding a homeless encampment under the Ship Canal Bridge with a protest Friday morning off the Interstate 5 and 45th Avenue overpass.

Over recent months, a series of traffic delays, shootings, fires, and deaths around the encampment have spurred serious safety concerns and a movement to get the King County Regional Homeless Authority (KCRHA) to clear the camp.

Shooting near Ship Canal Bridge homeless encampment slows Friday commute

The encampment underneath the Ship Canal Bridge is only a block away from John Stanford International School, an elementary school in the Wallingford neighborhood.

KOMO News reported that Gov. Jay Inslee made an impromptu visit to parents of students at John Stanford International School, saying that he would remove the camp “as soon as humanly possible.”

Don MacKenzie, the parent of two students currently enrolled in John Stanford and one former student, said the inaction since these issues started is part of why he was out protesting.

“We are fed up with the state’s inaction to find housing for the people living in the homeless camp under the Ship Canal Bridge, less than 200 feet from our kid’s school,” MacKenzie said. “There’s been gun violence, there’s drug use. There’s crime. We’ve had enough. The state said it’s the No. 1 priority, and nothing is happening.”

The Ship Canal Bridge encampment is a “priority site” for the KCRHA after the state gave $50 million to them to get housing for people living around freeways.

The homelessness authority previously estimated there were 220 people who needed housing between the CID and Ship Canal Bridge encampments.

“We know that there is shelter space available, there’s over a 20% vacancy rate in our homeless shelters right now. People need to move into those places and take the shelter that is offered to them, it’s not an appropriate place, it’s not a healthy place for them to be living next to the freeway, and it’s not good for our community,” MacKenzie said. “It’s not good for our kids.”

Seattle City Councilmember Alex Pedersen, representing District 4 which includes John Stanford, made a statement to MyNorthwest echoing the concerns of parents.

“I support the passion of parents sick and tired of government agencies that have allowed more than a dozen people to suffer outside for nearly a year under I-5 in dangerous and inhumane conditions with deaths, fires, gun shots, thefts, and other crimes next to a public elementary school,” Pedersen said. “With all the financial resources and time provided, Washington State officials and the King County Regional Homelessness Authority are overdue in providing shelter and securing this site to prevent any new tragedies on their watch. I continue to implore the responsible agencies to take action now.”

Sam Campbell contributed to this report

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Parents protest Ship Canal Bridge encampment near school