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Police prepare to help to clear out SODO homeless camp

SEATTLE -- Police began staging early Tuesday morning to help close a Seattle homeless encampment that’s been plagued with health hazards and criminal activity.

The evictions are expected to begin at 9 a.m.


Late Monday, four members of the Seattle City Council sent a letter to the mayor asking for an additional week. Their request came after camp residents asked for more time. But the cleanup will still move forward.

Residents named the encampment the "Field of Dreams." It’s along Royal Brougham Way in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood.

The city posted a notice to vacate the property on Feb. 24..

“You know, I believe it’s sort of the fire under my feet,” said Jason Sanders, who has lived at the encampment since April.

Sanders is using the closure as an opportunity to improve his life.

“The Union Gospel Mission is available. They’ve drilled me on a daily basis to interest me in their program. I know it would help me more than this,” he said.

No person’s story is the same at the camp .

For Sanders, depression, substance abuse and eviction from low-income housing pushed him into homeless. But not everyone is prepared to leave.

Some residents and homeless advocates gathered for public comment before the Seattle City Council on Monday afternoon and asked that that the closure be called off or delayed.

“I’m asking you today—do not sweep the Field,” said Matt Hanis who is a resident at Nickelsville Ballard, another homeless encampment.

Another person who addressed the council during public comment said the purposed sweeps are unfair and a violation basic human rights, adding the encampment residents have nowhere else to go.

The city’s Navigation Team, Union Gospel Mission and other outreach providers have been visiting the site to work with residents to offer shelter and services, according to the City of Seattle.

But for Reaby Washington, who lives at the Field, services aren’t enough.

“We are looking for shelter,” said Washington. “We are looking for homes, houses, places we can call our own.”

The city sites public health hazards and public safety behind the planned closure. The camp also has a rat infestation.

But for Sanders, Tuesday morning will be the start of better life.

“My hopes are that I can utilized the available resources offered to me,” he said.

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