Sound Stories. Sound Voices.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
You are on the KUOW archive site. Click here to go to our current site.
00000181-fa79-da89-a38d-fb7f2b910000KUOW is joining forces with other Seattle media outlets to highlight the homeless crisis in the city and region on Wednesday, June 29, 2017.The effort was modeled after a collaboration by more than 70 San Francisco outlets to focus a day of news attention on the issue and possible solutions.Read more about the Seattle project and check out our coverage below. Follow the city's coverage by using #SeaHomeless.HighlightsThe Jungle: an ongoing coverage project going into the notorious homeless encampment under Interstate 5.Ask Seattle's Homeless Community: KUOW is launching a Facebook group where anyone may ask a question about homelessness, but only people who have experienced it may answer. This was inspired by a recent event KUOW co-presented with Seattle Public Library and Real Change, where residents of the Jungle answered audience questions. No End In Sight: an award-winning investigative project from KUOW about King County's 10-year plan to end homelessness.

Seattle's new homeless camp rules labeled as a 'distraction'

The City of Seattle has rules about when homeless camps can be cleared out (called the Multi-Departmental Administrative Rules). But since they’re nearly a decade old, city and community leaders have called for an update.

The city’s finance department is proposing changes to the homeless encampment rules, and asks for the public’s input until Feb. 15.

Under the proposal, outreach workers would need to offer homeless people another shelter option before making them move.

So far homeless advocates say the city's plan doesn't do enough to support the homeless. Attorney Yurij Rudensky with Columbia Legal Services says it's an improvement, but was hoping for more.

Rudensky: "The types of services that the city has to offer includes housing but can stop well short of it. And what we were hoping to accomplish was to really move people into permanent housing, which is a lasting exit off the streets."

Also, the city isn't required to connect people to shelters if they are already banned from the city's shelters because of behavioral problems. Rudensky says those are some of the most vulnerable people.

The Neighborhood Safety Alliance, a group opposed to safe consumption sites and RV camping lots, is also unhappy with the city proposal. The group calls it "a distraction" from working to get people housed.

Among the other proposed changes by the city:

  • The city would need to tell homeless people the exact date their camp would be cleared.
  • Crews would be required to return personal belongings to homeless people after a camp sweep (items like pallets would not be included).
  • Certain areas would be deemed permanently off-limits to camping, and could be fenced to keep people out.

The encampment rules were developed by the Department of Finance and Administrative Services, which will finalize the rules after public comment. The Seattle Mayor's office says it will provide a comment after the public input period.

Meanwhile, the ACLU has sued the city on behalf of homeless people who say their personal items have been destroyed during homeless sweeps.

Paige Browning can be reached at paige@kuow.org or @paigebpaige_.