[Hpn] Homeless get 48 hours to leave

William C. Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Fri, 11 Jan 2008 04:16:19 -0500


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Friday, January 11, 2008


http://seattlepi.nwsource.com:80/local/346928_homelesscamps11.html

Homeless get 48 hours to leave
City proposes giving notice, help, at camps to be cleared
By JOHN IWASAKI
P-I REPORTER

Homeless people who camp on city property would be given at least 48 =
hours' notice before they and their belongings are removed under a draft =
protocol for dealing with unauthorized encampments, Seattle officials =
said Thursday.

The campers would be referred to health, job and other services and to =
shelters, with temporary shelters opened when needed. They could =
retrieve certain personal items, such as identification cards and =
prescription drugs, taken and stored by city workers.

The city proposed the protocol following criticism that its rules and =
procedures were inconsistent and unfair.

In particular, "we didn't do a good job" in August in clearing a =
homeless encampment in the northeast Queen Anne greenbelt, said Patricia =
McInturff, Seattle human services director. Advocates for the homeless =
said that in multiple cases starting last summer, city crews arrived =
unannounced, destroyed or damaged tents and removed personal =
possessions, such as photos of loved ones.

She said the city has cleared encampments for 15 years and does so =
following citizen complaints or when city staff discover the sites, =
which are considered public safety and health problems because of =
drinking, drug use, garbage, rats, fires and lack of toilets.

But the city must be "consistent in how we deal with that," Mayor Greg =
Nickels said Wednesday while visiting 1811 Eastlake, an apartment that =
provides low-cost housing and onsite services to homeless alcoholics. =
"We want to give people notice and an opportunity to reclaim their =
possessions."

Those goals are addressed in the draft, which would apply equally to all =
city departments. Until recently, different departments responded to =
encampments in different ways.

The city would publicize a single telephone number for anyone -- =
citizens who want to file a complaint, homeless people who want to pick =
up their belongings -- to call. In some instances previously, the city =
posted a disconnected number.

In case of an emergency or suspicion of illegal activity, the city could =
waive the 48-hour notice.

The public can review and comment on the proposal from Monday through =
Jan. 31 by going to seattle.gov/humanservices. A public hearing will be =
at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 31 in the Northwest Rooms at Seattle Center.

The protocol can be adopted by city departments without City Council =
action.

"What's being proposed is a big step in the right direction. I'm glad to =
see that the city is responding out of a sense of humanity toward people =
who are in encampments," said the Rev. Sandy Brown, executive director =
of the Church Council of Greater Seattle. He and several other advocates =
for the homeless were briefed Thursday on the protocol by city =
officials.

Brown's main concerns were that the city have outreach workers available =
to notify and refer homeless campers, and that shelter beds be available =
for those losing their campsite.

"We don't know how much it will cost," McInturff said. "It's part of the =
protocol. We'll find the money to do it."

She said existing outreach is done by a nonprofit agency under contract =
to the city. She said she did not think the costs would be outrageous =
because "there aren't millions of encampments."

The proposal covers a number of key components that concerned advocates, =
said Bill Block, director of the Committee to End Homelessness in King =
County. He was pleased to see the commitment to increasing temporary =
shelter, which McInturff said could be in city buildings, churches or =
other places.

Still, "the ultimate solution is to create enough housing and services =
so we don't have to face that issue," Block said. "That's the hardest =
part for everybody."

P-I reporter John Iwasaki can be reached at 206-448-8096 or =
johniwasaki@seattlepi.com.


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<DIV>
<P class=3Drddateline>Friday, January 11, 2008</P>
<P class=3Drddateline><BR><A=20
href=3D"http://seattlepi.nwsource.com:80/local/346928_homelesscamps11.htm=
l">http://seattlepi.nwsource.com:80/local/346928_homelesscamps11.html</A>=
</P>
<H1 class=3Drdheadline>Homeless get 48 hours to leave</H1>
<H2 class=3Drddeckline>City proposes giving notice, help, at camps to be =

cleared</H2>
<P class=3Drdbyline>By <A href=3D"mailto:johniwasaki@seattlepi.com">JOHN =

IWASAKI</A><BR>P-I REPORTER</P>
<DIV id=3DpiStorytext>
<P>Homeless people who camp on city property would be given at least 48 =
hours'=20
notice before they and their belongings are removed under a draft =
protocol for=20
dealing with unauthorized encampments, Seattle officials said =
Thursday.</P>
<P>The campers would be referred to health, job and other services and =
to=20
shelters, with temporary shelters opened when needed. They could =
retrieve=20
certain personal items, such as identification cards and prescription =
drugs,=20
taken and stored by city workers.</P>
<P>The city proposed the protocol following criticism that its rules and =

procedures were inconsistent and unfair.</P>
<P>In particular, "we didn't do a good job" in August in clearing a =
homeless=20
encampment in the northeast Queen Anne greenbelt, said Patricia =
McInturff,=20
Seattle human services director. Advocates for the homeless said that in =

multiple cases starting last summer, city crews arrived unannounced, =
destroyed=20
or damaged tents and removed personal possessions, such as photos of =
loved=20
ones.</P>
<P>She said the city has cleared encampments for 15 years and does so =
following=20
citizen complaints or when city staff discover the sites, which are =
considered=20
public safety and health problems because of drinking, drug use, =
garbage, rats,=20
fires and lack of toilets.</P>
<P>But the city must be "consistent in how we deal with that," Mayor =
Greg=20
Nickels said Wednesday while visiting 1811 Eastlake, an apartment that =
provides=20
low-cost housing and onsite services to homeless alcoholics. "We want to =
give=20
people notice and an opportunity to reclaim their possessions."</P>
<P>Those goals are addressed in the draft, which would apply equally to =
all city=20
departments. Until recently, different departments responded to =
encampments in=20
different ways.</P>
<P>The city would publicize a single telephone number for anyone -- =
citizens who=20
want to file a complaint, homeless people who want to pick up their =
belongings=20
-- to call. In some instances previously, the city posted a disconnected =

number.</P>
<P>In case of an emergency or suspicion of illegal activity, the city =
could=20
waive the 48-hour notice.</P>
<P>The public can review and comment on the proposal from Monday through =
Jan. 31=20
by going to seattle.gov/humanservices. A public hearing will be at 7:30 =
p.m.=20
Jan. 31 in the Northwest Rooms at Seattle Center.</P>
<P>The protocol can be adopted by city departments without City Council=20
action.</P>
<P>"What's being proposed is a big step in the right direction. I'm glad =
to see=20
that the city is responding out of a sense of humanity toward people who =
are in=20
encampments," said the Rev. Sandy Brown, executive director of the =
Church=20
Council of Greater Seattle. He and several other advocates for the =
homeless were=20
briefed Thursday on the protocol by city officials.</P>
<P>Brown's main concerns were that the city have outreach workers =
available to=20
notify and refer homeless campers, and that shelter beds be available =
for those=20
losing their campsite.</P>
<P>"We don't know how much it will cost," McInturff said. "It's part of =
the=20
protocol. We'll find the money to do it."</P>
<P>She said existing outreach is done by a nonprofit agency under =
contract to=20
the city. She said she did not think the costs would be outrageous =
because=20
"there aren't millions of encampments."</P>
<P>The proposal covers a number of key components that concerned =
advocates, said=20
Bill Block, director of the Committee to End Homelessness in King =
County. He was=20
pleased to see the commitment to increasing temporary shelter, which =
McInturff=20
said could be in city buildings, churches or other places.</P>
<P>Still, "the ultimate solution is to create enough housing and =
services so we=20
don't have to face that issue," Block said. "That's the hardest part for =

everybody."</P></DIV>
<DIV class=3Dvgray><B>P-I reporter John Iwasaki can be reached at =
206-448-8096 or=20
<A=20
href=3D"mailto:johniwasaki@seattlepi.com">johniwasaki@seattlepi.com</A>.<=
/B></DIV></DIV>
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