Following a Seattle police investigation and subsequent operation on Thursday, May 16 the City of Seattle’s Navigation Team will remove unmanaged encampments in the area along the northside of Dearborn Ave S, between I-5 and 13th Ave S starting Monday, May 20. Shelter will be available for every person living unsheltered on-site and the Navigation Team will offer storage of suitable items.
The area has been prioritized for removal due to several conditions present within the encampment such as criminality, presence of biohazardous waste, difficulty in extending emergency services to the site, and damage to the natural environment—all of which present serious and ongoing risks to both occupants of the encampment and the surrounding community.
The population living unsheltered at this encampment could be considered vulnerable and have likely been exposed to criminality and trauma. The Navigation Team takes these observations into account when engaging vulnerable individuals during outreach.
Efforts to Date
This area has frequently experienced negative impacts from unmanaged encampments and the Navigation Team and partners have been working to reduce impacts and connect vulnerable people to shelter for some time.
Since the beginning of 2019, the team has visited this site multiple times, engaging 48 individuals and referring 15 people to shelter. Some of these referrals occurred during the heaviest snows in February, when the Navigation Team worked around the clock to transport people to severe weather shelters.
Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) has provided intensive, ongoing garbage and biohazardous mitigation services to this site to reduce public health concerns and to provide more opportunities for individuals to engage in outreach services. Since December 2018, SPU has extended purple-trash bag service to 10th and Dearborn, with twice weekly collection. SPU also conducted twice weekly litter picks—where workers canvass the area picking up garbage, waste, and debris. Further, SPU installed a sharps container on-site to collect biohazardous materials such as hypodermic needles. Despite these efforts, garbage, biowaste, and debris continued to accumulate at frequent and high-levels.
Recent Outreach & Shelter
As of this Friday the team believes less than 30 people are living on site. The team will be conducting outreach and offering shelter throughout the clean-up operations, which are anticipated to take several days during the week of May 20.
- Thursday, May 16-The Navigation Team was on-site following the conclusion of the SPD investigation, connecting 2 people to shelter while clearing the few tents associated with the SPD investigation.
- Friday, May 17-The team inspected the site and posted notices of removal for the following week. During the day on Friday, the team referred an additional 5 people to shelter.
- Saturday, May 18-Outreach
- Sunday, May 19-Outreach
- Monday, May 20–Navigation Team observed 24 people living on-site. The team has 58 shelter beds available, including spaces in enhanced, 24/7 shelter and tiny house villages.
This will be a large clean-up effort including storage of belongings, bio-hazard clean-up and removal of garbage and structures from the property. Community members can expect some traffic impacts during the clean-up. Beginning on the week of May 20, parking will be restricted on 10th Avenue S between S Weller and S Dearborn and the street will be closed to all traffic to accommodate vehicles and heavy equipment needed for the clean-up operation.
Additionally, lane restrictions and bike lane detours along S Dearborn will be in place during the cleanup. Motorists may notice safety flaggers directing traffic along S Dearborn. Parking restrictions, street closures, lane restrictions and bike lane detours will remain in place through Thursday, May 23rd.
To accommodate these actions, the area will be made an active work-zone and temporary fencing will be installed around the property to discourage re-camping of the area while restoration efforts are underway.
The Navigation Team will continue to monitor the area to discourage re-camping following the clean-up of the site.
Following outreach and the removal of the encampment, City departments will be engaging the surrounding community to develop strategies to encourage uses of the site that are safe and accessible for all members of the public. The City’s Homelessness Response Activation Committee will be briefing International Special Review District Board in June, following community outreach in the CID and Little Saigon. At that time the City will detail short-term plans and collect feedback on possible mid and long-term activation plans for the site.