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Ballard resident says Seattle City Council mum on homeless spending

A homeless tent blocks a doorway at Ballard's Whitman Middle School in April. (KIRO 7)
LISTEN: Ballard residents fighting Seattle City Council for answers

The tent that was sitting on the property of Ballard’s Whitman Middle School during the week of April 9 is gone, according to Ballard resident and Whitman parent Erika Nagy.

RELATED: Homeless tent blocks doorway of Whitman Middle School 

Nagy, who previously spoke to KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson about the tent, told Dori the tent was likely removed because of the media attention it garnered.

“Thanks to KIRO for coming out and giving this the attention it deserves because typically these things don’t get resolved,” she said.

The tent may be gone, but Ballard residents are no less upset at the way that their once-peaceful, family-oriented neighborhood has changed in recent years.

Residents are gathering for a meeting at 6 p.m. on May 2 at Trinity United Methodist Church in Ballard; Nagy invites all Seattle residents — not only people from Ballard — to come out and voice their worries.

“I’ve grown up in Ballard all my life and I’ve seen the drastic changes,” Nagy said. “The concern that I have is that this isn’t a simple solution — it’s not an easy one to fix.”

While Seattle spends more money per homeless person than any other city in the nation, Nagy said that she and her neighbors see no evidence of the solutions toward which the money is actually going.

“We don’t have any insight into how they’re working or how they’re performing … We want to understand how the city is managing this money,” she said.

Now the city is planning to put a tiny house encampment in the Whittier Heights neighborhood, in which homeless people would be allowed to use drugs.

Nagy said that the Seattle politicians to whom she has talked, including Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, continue to suggest the same solution over and over again — pumping more money into the homeless crisis, courtesy of the taxpayers.

“The solution and the strategy is not more money,” Nagy said. “We need to understand where our money is going, who it’s being given to, what the results are … Right now, we don’t have any of those answers.”

When an audience member at a recent community meeting asked a Seattle Housing and Resource Effort what the top three salaries at SHARE were, the representative refused to answer the question. To Nagy, this was a red flag.

“We know they’re getting compensated very well,” Nagy said. “There is no incentive for them to stop these programs because then they’re out of a job.”

O’Brien, too, has stayed tight-lipped on the tough questions, according to Nagy. He told her in more than one email that he has a problem with the fact that she disagrees with his policies.

“He won’t have a conversation with people who oppose his views,” she said.

Of course, Nagy said, politicians can ignore the problems that their constituents face when those problems don’t affect them.

“Lakeside [School] doesn’t have tents in its parking lot, so when you live in a different reality from the rest of us … it’s easy to pretend it’s not happening,” Nagy observed wryly.  “So there’s a bit of a disconnect there with the ‘commoners,’ so to speak.”

Trinity United Methodist Church is located at 6512 23rd Ave. NW in Ballard.

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