FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 6/24/2013
Council President Sally J. Clark
Seattle City Council authorizes funds to transition campers out of city-owned ‘glass yard’ property
SEATTLE – City Council unanimously adopted legislation today authorizing the Human Services Department to provide outreach, engagement, case management, shelter, housing and other services to transition campers out of the encampment at 7116 W Marginal Way SW.
Council Bill 117815 authorizes $500,000 in new General Fund dollars for services to camping residents of the City-owned property commonly known as "Nickelsville." Residents in the surrounding community have expressed ongoing concerns about environmental contamination at the site and the public safety impact of the encampment for campers and the surrounding neighborhood. Passage of this legislation underscores a majority of councilmembers’ long-standing position that encampments are not an acceptable response to homelessness in Seattle and that providing housing, treatment services, and shelter are the most appropriate assistance to set homeless individuals on a pathway to ending homelessness.
The City invests more than $30 million annually in programs and services to assist homeless individuals and families. In the past two years, the Council has provided an additional $1 million in funding for shelter, rapid re-housing and other services to help move homeless individuals and families off the streets and into shelter and housing. In recent years Council has also affirmed the constitutional right of religious organizations to provide shelter, including encampments, with minimal requirements.
"Our goal is to provide safe, secure housing, to anyone at the West Marginal Way SW location who is willing to accept it," said Council President Sally J. Clark.
Seven Councilmembers signed a letter earlier this month requesting the Mayor to direct the Human Services Department to prepare a plan to provide immediate, targeted outreach and engagement services, case management and housing, shelter and services for Nickelsville residents and closure of the encampment by September 1. Several cities, including, New Orleans, Baltimore and San Francisco have also taken the approach of providing intensive outreach and engagement efforts, coupled with the provision of housing, shelter and services to residents of encampments. The cities have been successful moving individuals at the encampments into stable, safe shelters and supported housing.
"We recognize that the problem of homelessness is a regional, state and national problem. We can’t end homelessness alone, but we can help the residents of Nickelsville today – and that’s worth the investment," Clark added.
The Council’s Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture Committee (HHSHC) will host an evening hearing on Tuesday, June 25 regarding alternatives for encampments in the city. The next meeting of the HHSHC committee is scheduled for Wednesday, June 26, where the committee may take action on legislation broadening the ability of encampments to locate on public or private property in the city.