At least one arrest made as city clears out the ‘Triangle’
Moving people out of an illegal homeless encampment that has become a health risk in Seattle’s SoDo district proved at least slightly troublesome for the city.
At least one arrest was reported as the city cleared people out of the camp known as the “Triangle” on Tuesday. And about 28 people living in the encampment were still there at the 9 a.m. deadline.
At least half of the more than two dozen homeless at the SoDo camp left before the deadline.
One person leaving the camp told KIRO 7 they knew they would have to go, however, there were rumors that they had more time.
Some homeless and their supporters gathered outside the camp chanting “sweep the streets, not people.” At least one of those demonstrators was arrested after a scuffle with Seattle police.
Restoration work on the land will happen after personal belongings and tents are cleared out.
Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission pleaded with city officials to stick to its plan to clear out the homeless camp, also known as “The Field.”
“We have been working with the Royal Brougham (camp), The Field, The Triangle – whatever we call it – for a year,” said Jeff Lilley with the Union Gospel Mission. “In that process, we have gotten very few people out. When it’s time to move, then we get people out.”
Lilley told KIRO Radio’s Ron and Don that after the city gave notice that it was going to clear the camp, the Union Gospel Mission began getting more responses to its services.
“There are around 20 individuals, in the last two weeks, who have decided to take services, take housing, go into recovery,” he said. “If we leave them alone, they are going to do what they are doing. If we engage with them and say, ‘This isn’t good for you, it’s not good for our city,’ then they start accepting help.”
“Obviously, these are individuals that would like to stay there,” Lilley said. “They don’t want to move, mostly because they don’t know where to move.”
But at the very minimum, Lilley argues, if the camp were to become sanctioned, as some residents want, officials would have to move everyone out for a time, clean up the site, and then move them back in.
Camp residents asked for more time at Monday’s city council meeting, and to ultimately become a sanctioned encampment, like at Rainier Valley, Interbay and Ballard. Camp Second Chance along Myers Way, for example, was another unauthorized homeless encampment that worked to become sanctioned by the city.
But it was a tough sell. The “Triangle,” aka “The Field,” was formed on a triangular piece of land after many campers were pushed out of the Jungle. Some city council members want to give the campers more time. Others have visited the camp and say it is not safe. Councilmember Debora Juarez wants to give them more time to get things in order.
Lilley has taken city officials to visit the camp, specifically Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. Bagshaw was booed at the last council meeting when she expressed that the camp was not suitable.
“We took Sally there on Friday,” Lilley said. “It was a cold, rainy day, snowy off-and-on. A lot of sad stories. We introduced her to some of the residents. She talked to them and heard their stories firsthand. She walked through the mud … the rats aren’t out as bad during the day, but she got to hear a lot of stories.”
Mayor Murray visited the camp, among others, overnight. Lilley said that after the visit, the mayor took additional action to address the issue.
“We got two people off the streets (that night) – one was a woman who had a broken hip, diabetes, and was fighting cancer,” Lilley said. “She was living in this little tent under the West Seattle Bridge. The mayor took a personal interest in that story … Not only were we able to get her off the street, but he’s stayed in touch and has wanted updates.”
“I think it stirred him to stop and say, ‘I got to do something,’” he said. “A week later, he came out with a $55 million request. I don’t want to say that it’s solely because of that, but I think it is the mayor looking at it and realizing there is a big problem here in the city.”
Mayor Murray has recently proposed a new property tax to raise the $55 million to put toward homeless services.