‘I feel bad for these people:’ South Lake Union homeless encampment cleared away

May 29, 2024, 2:10 PM

Photo: Crews cleared a South Lake Union homeless encampment on May 29, 2023....

Crews cleared a South Lake Union homeless encampment on May 29, 2023. (Photo: James Lynch, KIRO Newsradio)

(Photo: James Lynch, KIRO Newsradio)

The deadline, for those living in a South Lake Union homeless encampment, to pack up and move on was 9 a.m. Wednesday.

The encampment was located on Harrison Street between 6th Avenue North and 7th Avenue North and neighbors said it had been there for at least a month.

Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) crews, police and homeless advocates were on hand to assist with the move and to prevent any trouble. There was none. Campers woke and began to tear down … not knowing where they would go.

Other news: Group agrees to disband UW encampment after reaching deal with administration

“It’s like, we’re not allowed to be anywhere. You know what I mean? So, it’s hard to even find a spot when we’re trying to wait on resources,” a homeless man, who requested anonymity, told KIRO Newsradio.

Photo: A South Lake Union homeless encampment was cleared on May 29, 2024. People living there said they're not sure where they will go.

A South Lake Union homeless encampment was cleared on May 29, 2024. People living there said they’re not sure where they will go. (Photo: James Lynch, KIRO Newsradio)

For most people living at the encampment, it’s all about timing. Some said they are immediately moving into a tiny home. Others said they would move back into their parent’s house, but most don’t know where they will sleep in the coming days.

For people who live and work in South Lake Union and who passed the encampment every day, the uncertainty is troubling.

“I just feel bad because this is not the first time I’ve seen a camp cleaned up,” a neighbor who requested anonymity told KIRO Newsradio. “I’m just not sure where these people are supposed to go. As far as I’ve heard a lot of the shelters are filled up and they don’t have space. So, I feel really bad for these people. They don’t really have an option.”

City crews were on hand with garbage trucks to clean up the mess left behind.

More local news: Hundreds of asylum-seeking refugees create encampment in Central District park

Earlier this month, the City of Seattle requested the King County Regional Homelessness Authority to cut its budget by $21 million compared to last year’s spending.

The $21 million is a 19% decrease from last year and, according to The Seattle Times, could potentially eliminate about 300 emergency shelter beds and a 125-bed shelter for Black men in the Central District among a loss of behavioral health services or beds at tiny home villages.

A spokesperson for Mayor Bruce Harrell explained to The Seattle Times the budget reduction is because temporary funding, retrieved through pandemic relief aid, has expired.

Contributing: Frank Sumrall, MyNorthwest

You can read more of James Lynch’s stories here. Follow James on X, or email him here.

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‘I feel bad for these people:’ South Lake Union homeless encampment cleared away