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Opinions divided about new Seattle homeless encampment

KOMO

SEATTLE -- Preparations were underway Monday in Seattle for the opening of another city regulated homeless encampment. The soon to be operating property in the Rainier Valley will be the third city-run camp to open in response to our community's homeless crisis.

"The overall goal for folks who are living in this encampment site is to transition them to more permanent housing," said Ralph Meis with the Low Income Housing Institute.

LIHI will be working with the city to manage the property, which will include 12 so-called tiny homes and up to 35 tents to house up to 100 of our city's homeless.

"I welcome this encampment to the community and I think that we shouldn't give in to our fears about what it might mean and instead embrace our compassion about what it might mean for our community," said John Grant, who lives nearby.

The Rainer Valley encampment, located at Martin Luther King Jr. Way South and Renton Avenue South, will operate like the other city encampments in Ballard and Interbay. Residents staying at the property will eventually have access to water, power, food and services. They will also be required to follow a strict code of conduct.

"My biggest concern is how this community was chosen to start with," said Patricia Paschal, who opposes the encampment in her community.

Some neighbors argue Southeast Seattle already faces enough challenges with crime and not enough economic presence from local businesses. Some residents say the encampment should be located elsewhere.

"This a homeless encampment is only going to hinder any kind of development or anyone coming and starting a business here," said Pat Murakami, the president of the South Seattle Crime Prevention Council.

The South Seattle site was originally planned to be located in SODO, but concerns about safety forced the city to consider other options. The Rainier Valley property belongs to LIHI. The non-profit says eventually they plan to build 100 affordable housing units and a food back on the property. The city ordinance allows the camp to be on the property no longer than two years.

So whether neighbors oppose or support the planned encampment, the Rainier Valley location will soon be another city regulated property for those who have nowhere to call home.

"I think that we should have compassion when looking at folks that are in this situation," said Grant.

LIHI hopes to have the camp up and operating by March 1st.

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