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Support and concerns for Seattle's sanctioned homeless encampments

SEATTLE - Neighbors and business owners plan to voice both support and displeasure for the man known as Seattle's "Homeless Czar" at a meeting in South Seattle Monday night.

The meeting at South Seattle Community College focused on three new homeless encampments around the city, that Mayor Ed Murray hopes the city will sanction.

On Monday, a clean-up crew was seen preparing for one of those sanctioned sites on South Myrtle St., next to a fire station and a Boeing plant entrance and directly across from Bill Oliver's plumbing supply company.

"Truthfully, I don't think the homeless shelter is such a bad idea but I just don't think this is a good spot for it," said Oliver.

Larry Reed, president of the Georgetown Merchants Association said other nearby businesses agree, but haven't spoken up.

"There's very little vocal opposition to this. We were just concerned that we were consulted," said Reed. "It's not so much the policy that was troubling, it was the process."

Others say Georgetown is an ideal location.

"I think Georgetown is a pretty diverse neighborhood that is open to people who are having are having a hard time," said neighbor Patty Foley. "I think it's a good place to put the encampment in a way."

In December, Mayor Murray designated three sites: a city-owned lot at 1000 S. Myrtle St., another lot along Aurora Ave. N. near 85th St. and an existing homeless camp on Myers Way near White Center. All three would be sanctioned homeless encampments under the executive powers the mayor gave himself when he declared a homeless emergency in Seattle.

"It's not so much the policy that was troubling, it was the process," said Reed. That's because the mayor's office didn't tell the neighbors first.

Kelly Welker, director of the Georgetown Community Council, had hope the mayor would have consulted the neighborhood before making the decision.

"It wasn't something that was talked about with, we were just told in December that this 'is' going to happen," said Welker.

Aside from some homeless camping in RV's on the street, there are no visible tents in Georgetown.

"There are so many places where have unauthorized campers and putting up tents and I wonder why that is because nobody would want to be down here," said Oliver.

That's because there are no grocery stores, laundromats or major bus routes nearby.

"You're just so isolated, you might as well be on an island with no boats," said Oliver.

They mayor's office hopes to have the Georgetown sanctioned homeless camp location up and running in a month.


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