A few months ago in an Open Thread, I linked positively to this Sally Clark piece on finding a body during the One Night Count. It seemed like it was compassionate, and human. I now realize that was incorrect. That piece wasn’t her feeling sorry for a homeless person who had died, it was her dragging it in front of the rest of the world like a cat with a dead bird. How else do you explain her and 6 colleagues moving to force the closure of Nickelsville with only vague assurances of funding to solve the problem?
This morning, at the city council briefing, Council Member Sally Clark circulated a letter, addressed to Mayor McGinn, regarding the Nickelsville homeless encampment in Highland Park. All the council members except the two who have recently been working on homeless encampment legislation—that’s Nick Licata and Mike O’Brien—signed it.
This letter, which West Seattle Blog has a copy of here, asks the mayor to direct the city’s Human Services Department in planning and providing “immediate targeted outreach and engagement services to the Nickelsville residents along with immediate provisions of shelter, housing and other services.” Citing “a public health and safety emergency,” they ask that the plan be developed, implemented, and then Nickelsville be shut down, all by September 1, 2013.
As to the money that would cost, the letter says: “We recognize added resources may be required and, to that end, we will introduce legislation to authorize funding for this purpose.” They do not say how much or where it will come from.
Unfortunately, McGinn is going along (not sure what other options he has).
I appreciate the work of Councilmembers Licata and O’Brien for working on expanding legal options for encampments, which built upon the work of an advisory task force I assembled in my first year in office. For some time we have delayed enforcement of the law against encampments on industrial lands while the City Council examined these proposals to provide more opportunities for legal encampments in the City of Seattle. In light of the City Council’s clear statement of intent that they will not expand encampments further, and that they expect Nickelsville to clear the property by September 1, motivated in part by the desire to sell this property to Food Lifeline, I have no further basis to not enforce the law.
We will provide additional services, including extended winter shelter hours through the summer. Absent a change in direction by the City Council, by September 1 we expect the property to be vacated and we will follow the City Council’s direction to evict those who remain.
And look, none of this is to say that Nickelsville is a particularly good solution to Seattle’s homelessness problem. But whatever half assed fixes Seattle gets between now and September — if we even get the promised half assed fixes — won’t be enough. And as the September days turn chillier and chillier, well, it won’t be the members of the City Council out in the cold.