City and County Councilmembers Ask Murray Not to Clear Homeless Encampment

Sally Bagshaw and Jeanne Kohl-Welles want to give Camp Second Chance another chance.

As we reported this morning, the city’s executive branch has threatened to evict a sober, unauthorized homeless encampment in south Seattle tomorrow morning. But the respective chairs of the county’s and city’s health and human services committees have both asked Mayor Ed Murray for a reprieve.

“I am requesting the Mayor to grant the Camp its request for being able to remain for up to three months to locate a new host site to continue providing their important assistance,” says county councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, chair of the council’s Health, Housing, and Human Services committee, in a written statement. “Camp Second Chance is sheltering 26 people at a time of critical need. I believe we must find the resources to help groups like this in these times and be creative.”

Sally Bagshaw, Kohl-Welles’ counterpart on the city council’s Public Health and Human Services committee, agrees. She sees the pending eviction of Camp Second Chance as analogous to the mayor’s earlier plan to clear out the archipelago of encampments beneath and along I-5. “Remember what we did around the Duwamish Greenway [aka the Jungle] when we felt that it was really wrong for people underneath the freeway to be swept without another place to go?” she says. “I really feel the same way about this.”

Bagshaw says she spoke with the mayor’s office this morning and conveyed her concern. “They know how serious we are about wanting a systemic plan that cares for people and isn’t just moving them around,” Bagshaw says. “That does not do us any good. Not only is it not moral, it isn’t financially smart.”

She’s not crazy about the campers—or more specifically, camp advisor Polly Trout—cutting the chain with which the area they’re now camping on was locked. “We got a potential trespass issue there,” she says. “Breaking the chain was not a good thing. Yet there’s 25 people who need a space to be. So let’s find them better spaces to be.”

Councilmember Bagshaw, if the eviction proceeds as planned tomorrow morning, will that be acceptable to you?

“No,” she says. “No, it’s not acceptable. That’s not right, because we’re not solving a problem, we’re making a problem worse.”

The encampment is located inside District 1, represented by city councilmember Lisa Herbold. When we spoke with her earlier today, she did not go so far as to ask Murray to delay the eviction, but she did write in a blogpost last week that “I want a report on the outreach and services being provided to the campers with assurances that should outreach workers find that more time will result in better outcomes for the campers that more time will be given.”

UPDATE: A spokesperson for the mayor’s office confirms that Camp Second Chance will definitely not be evicted tomorrow (Tuesday), and says that the city will offer services and assistance to campers before any clearance occurs. A camper confirms that an outreach worker from Evergreen Treatment Services’ REACH team came to the camp today.

The title of this post has been edited to correctly spell the mayor’s last name.

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