At approximately 8am this morning, the Seattle Police Department began evictions and removal of personal property from the Dearborn encampment. The residents were given 30 minutes to pack their belongings although city officials say the police have been giving warnings all week. The Nickelsville homeless encampment was previously approved by the city but has since lost that status after the ouster of Scott Morrow by the residents of the camp. Morrow, who is a large part of the staff that runs Nickelsville, has previously faced accusations from unhappy camp residents. That path that lead to the dismantling of Camp Dearborn and the eviction of it’s residents is nuanced and complicated.
Sharon Lee, the executive director of the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) said residents were “being offered a place to say” in three other city sanctioned encampments if they were willing to follow the rules set up by SHARE and Nickelsville. The three city sanctioned encampments offered are in Othello Village (South Seattle), Interbay (Middle of Nothing), and Ballard (Northwest Seattle). In one case, 12 bus tickets (or 6 days worth of transportation) were provided to a resident who worked nearby. Those with addictions however, have few options, one being the Downtown Emergency Services Center, which some would argue is not much of an option.
After the eviction and clean-up began, Sharon Lee emailed photos of found needles and mentioned in an email that “16 people were here. 8 people agreed to move to Othello Village and abide by Nickelsville code of conduct–including a mother and son who arrived 3 days ago.” When asked about the needles being used for drugs or possibly diabetic injections, Lee replied “Needles were found in lots of different locations. This is drug use. One couple we moved both are totally high. Hard liquor bottles everywhere too. Drug paraphernalia in tents and sheds”.
(Image courtesy of Sharon Lee)
Sharon Lee, executive director of LIHI and Scott Lindsay, public safety adviser to Mayor Murray, spoke to the press for a few minutes during the eviction.