The City of Seattle’s Homelessness Emergency Response team recently announced new locations for the Ballard and Interbay permitted encampments. Both encampments were created in 2015 and each have two-year permits set to expire in November. Permitted, self-managed encampments are part of a continuum of care provided to people living outside, and offer a transition from living in unsafe and unhealthy conditions to living in a place with support services including case management and sanitation facilities.
Seattle is the first city in the country to offer public land and funding to support permitted encampments for people experiencing homelessness. All six of the City’s permitted homeless encampment programs receive City funding to provide support services, security, and operations at the camps. The current City ordinance permits these encampments to operate for one-year with an option for a second-year renewal. To date, finding suitable locations that meet land use codes and needs of residents, operators, and surrounding community has been difficult during Seattle’s real estate and population boom.
In June 2017, the City released an assessment of the first three permitted encampments that found sanctioned encampments were effective in helping people living unsheltered find safer and case management-supported living situations. The report also found neighboring communities and businesses responded positively to encampments and their residents.
Thanks to the Port of Seattle, local homeless advocates and neighboring communities, the Interbay sanctioned encampment (currently located at 3234 17th Ave. W.) will relocate to the Port’s vacant property at 1601 15th Ave. W. in the Interbay neighborhood by mid-November. The Port of Seattle Commission approved the use of the site in September following community outreach with the City and the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) to engage neighbors, local businesses, and faith communities. The new lease is for one year, with an option for a second.
The Interbay encampment will remain a clean-and-sober environment and will continue to be operated by LIHI and SHARE’s self-managed Tent City 5. The site will hold “tiny” wooden structures capable of housing up to 80 people and their pets. The encampment will have water, electricity, and sewer utilities. The encampment will provide operational management, 24-hour security, and on-site social case managers to help the residents move into permanent housing.
The sanctioned encampment in Ballard (currently located at 2826 NW Market St.) is operated by LIHI and Nickelsville’ s self-managed community, and was the first City-permitted encampment opened in fall 2015. The encampment currently serves up to 25 residents at a time. With the permit for the Ballard location expiring on Nov. 18, 2017, the City has been working since June to find a suitable relocation for the existing encampment, however finding available space has proven difficult. With the input of the operator, advocates, local businesses, faith communities, and encampment residents, the City’s Homelessness Emergency Response team has identified an appropriate location at 3814 Fourth Ave. NE in the Northlake neighborhood.
The Northlake property is owned by Seattle City Light (SCL), which agreed for the site to be used as a temporary encampment for one-to-two years prior to planned development for SCL future use. The Northlake site meets land use code requirements and is approximately 20 percent larger than the existing Ballard site to accommodate more people. The site is near King County Metro routes and will have electricity, sewer, and water services. The encampment will remain clean-and-sober and will continue to offer unsheltered people the help they need to find permanent housing.
The City’s goal is to have the new Northlake site available for move-in by, or close to, the Ballard encampment permit expiration date. The City will support the Nickelsville residents to stay at the Ballard location until the new site is ready. The City is working with community stakeholders in Northlake, Wallingford, and Ballard to provide information on the upcoming move. A community meeting is being scheduled for early November, and the City encourages residents and business owners to attend to meet Nickelsville residents, encampment operators, and City leaders. Once finalized, meeting details will be posted on this site.