Seattle Tent City: SHARE-WHEEL campaign gets Times coverage FWD

Tom Boland (
Thu, 11 Jun 1998 20:15:28 -0700 (PDT)
FWD  Seattle Times - Local News : Thursday, June 11, 1998


     by Christine Clarridge - Seattle Times staff reporter

Upset that police and city workers razed the outdoor encampments of some
100 homeless people in the area known as "the jungle," advocates for the
homeless yesterday erected a tent city on Beacon Hill.

Bulldozers were used to clear out the jungle, an overgrown and wooded
parcel of land on Beacon Hill under Interstate 5. The wooded area is refuge
to more than 100 homeless people, city officials estimate.

City officials said the camps are a threat to health and safety. Three
women have been killed in the area since last fall, and a man has been
arrested in connection with the slayings.

But advocates for the homeless said the city got it backward. It should
have found or created new housing for the homeless before it destroyed what
some said was a homeless person's safest option.

SHARE and WHEEL, two local organizations that claim to be composed of
homeless people and formerly homeless people seeking to run their own
communities, established a tent community on the west side of Beacon Hill
yesterday afternoon. The temporary encampment will provide emergency
shelter for those displaced by the city's actions.

Several portable toilets were set up, and camp organizers said jugs of
water would be brought in.

Every couple of years the city tries to clean out the jungle. So far, the
cleanups have been short-lived, with people moving back into the woods
nearly as soon as police leave.

Seattle Mayor Paul Schell said that while clearing the jungle is not the
whole answer, it would be irresponsible for the city to simply ignore the
unsanitary conditions. He acknowledged there are people who prefer to live
in isolation rather than in some of the more traditional homeless shelters,
but that doesn't mean the city can condone it.


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