Inslee pleas for more funds as state, city crews clear First Ave bridge encampment

Mar 21, 2023, 6:06 PM | Updated: 6:06 pm

First Avenue bridge encampment (Nicole Jennings) Governor Jay Inslee at the First Avenue bridge encampment (Nicole Jennings) First Avenue bridge encampment (Nicole Jennings)

State and city crews in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood clearing a massive homeless encampment underneath the First Avenue bridge on both sides of Michigan Street. Thirty-five people moved out of the camp, with 30 accepting housing.

What remains are piles of trash, broken cars, RVs, and machinery. State troopers said they found some stolen cars there.

Governor Inslee stopped by Tuesday’s cleanup to speak on his $4 billion housing levy while touring the camp.

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“I’m here to say our state is better than this,” Inslee said at the impromptu press conference. “The Evergreen State is better than this. This year, we’re going to step up the plate and go big so people can go home.”

Inslee claimed the state needs money to pay for housing, as well as drug and alcohol rehab and mental health treatment.

“We have a housing crisis and we are in the beginning stages of fighting it with major cleanup efforts all across the state of Washington,” Inslee said. “Reductions of homeless camps in Spokane, in Vancouver, in Seattle, Tukwila.”

The Legislature does not appear to be on board with that plan. The Senate proposed just a fraction of the amount Inslee requested — $625 million for housing.

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“Our state needs to go forward and we need to put the dollars that are necessary to build all kinds of housing and mental health services and chemical addiction treatment to get people out of squalor and into healthy housing,” Inslee continued.

This encampment removal was part of the state’s initiative to remove camps along state highways.

Nicole Jennings contributed to this reporting.

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Inslee pleas for more funds as state, city crews clear First Ave bridge encampment