‘I want to see a more humane response’: 43% of Seattle homeless sweeps given no notice, no help

Aug 3, 2023, 6:41 AM

(Photo from KIRO 7)...

(Photo from KIRO 7)

(Photo from KIRO 7)

Dozens of protestors rallied Tuesday afternoon at the steps of Seattle City Hall. The newfound coalition, ‘Services Not Sweeps’ is calling on the Mayor’s Office to ban encampment sweeps in extreme weather be it excessive cold or heat as well as wildfire smoke.

Following the gathering outside the building, the group went inside and packed a council meeting. Coalition leader, Jay Jones is hopeful, Councilmember Andrew Lewis will seriously consider their proposal.

“I just want to see a more humane response to support folks who really need it,” said Jones.

This push for change comes as the Seattle City Attorney’s Office is fighting for a related course correction. Anne Davison’s office plans to seek an appeal to a King County Judge’s order that removing encampments on the grounds of “obstruction” is unconstitutional.

In a partial summary judgment made earlier this month, Superior Court Judge, David Keenan wrote:

“The Rules define “Obstruction” so broadly that the City can invade unhoused people’s privacy rights without notice, offers of shelter, and property preservation.”

This decision could severely impact the city’s ability to relocate campers. Dee Powers with housing justice organization ‘Be:Seattle’ claims in 2022, 82% of Seattle’s 943 sweeps were called “obstruction sweeps”.

“Obstruction sweeps mean no notice, no help, no housing,” said Powers.

Data provided by the Seattle Mayor’s Office shows during the month of June there were 173 encampments removed across the city, of that 75 were deemed “obstructions”. That is roughly 43% of all clear-outs, nearly half.

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‘I want to see a more humane response’: 43% of Seattle homeless sweeps given no notice, no help