Letter from Seattle Mayor's Office

Graeme Bacque (gbacque@idirect.com)
Tue, 21 Jul 1998 12:41:48 -0700


I received the following reply to my e-mailing to Seattle Mayor Paul Schell
and various Seattle city council members in today's mail. 
---------------------------------

Dear Mr. Bacque,

Thank you for contacting me to share your concerns about the clearing of
homeless encampments.

The recent cleanup of encampments on Beacon Hill, in the East Duwamish
Greenbelt, was a coordinated effort of State, County, and City human
services agencies,and is consistent with a 10-year City policy. This and
other cleanups are done in the most humane way possible.Notices are
personally handed out to each resident at the encampment 1-2 days in
advance, in English and Spanish. Community Service Officers are on-site
during the cleanup, to offer those prersent assistance and referral services.

Encampment cleanups are done to address immediate public safety and health
issues. In the specific instance of the Beacon Hill encampments, there had
been growing concern that rodent infestation was threatening to become a
public health hazard to the surrounding community. In addition, an
apprehended, confessed murderer recently described the area as his
'playground,' and we are taking that public safety risk very seriously. 

I recognize that these cleanups are not a long-tm solution to the homeless
problem, and I am working with the City Council to come up with a
comprehensive strategy involving not only local government, but the entire
community. As a first step in that strategy, I have requested an emergency
funding measure to ensure that all homeless children and women are provided
with shelter by Christmas this year. We will also continue working to
address the underlying problems that create homelessness in our society,
including the need for affordable housing, mental health and substance
abuse treatment, and employment and training opportunities.The City of
Seattle currently spends nearly $8 million per year on services to help the
homeless. 

Again, I appreciate your concern about this difficult issue, and encourage
you to stay involved as we seek out the best government and community
options to provide more permanent solutions the homeless problem.

Very truly yours,

Paul Schell

cc: Ven Knox, Director, Department of Housing and Human Services