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Local residents growing frustrated with nearby encampment

City to clear homeless encampment in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood (KOMO News)
City to clear homeless encampment in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood (KOMO News)
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Neighbors are fed up and desperately calling for help with a growing encampment under the Ship Canal Bridge. Some residents we spoke to say the growing trash and break-ins is forcing them out of the area.

There’s no timeline on when this encampment will be addressed or removed, but we know from previous efforts, the process can take several weeks to complete outreach and clean up.

“Whoever can help, it’s a terrible situation back here, health wise,” one man, who didn’t want to give his full name, but says he volunteers in the area.

Over the past couple of years, neighbors living near the Ship Canal Bridge have noticed this encampment growing in size.

“It’s just accumulated tents, there’s got to be 20-30 tents in there,” Jon Turing, who lives nearby, said.

And while some residents say neighbors here are quiet and keep to themselves, others are fed up with the piles of trash and other issues.

“They’re really not a problem, I’ve see the police up here every once in a while but they just drive up, look and they leave,” Turing said.

Jianxin Huang manages properties nearby and says his tenants are constantly complaining about the growing garbage issue.

“’[There’s] garbage piled taller than me, you need to do something,’” Huang said of their complaints, “What can we do? We’ve called the city, we’ve called, nothing they can do.”

“There’s a lot of people that run across the highway, there’s a lot of needles that are on the ground too,” Tyler Larson, who lives nearby, said, “A lot of stolen items around here too.”

Those who live and volunteer in the area blame a lack of affordable housing and rising rents as some of the main reasons people have ended up here.

“People need things to survive out here, the basics – water, bathrooms, and shelter, electricity,” Vincent Stillgess, who lives in the area, said.

“It’s a cry to everybody who can pitch in,” one man who volunteers in the area said, “They deserve better.”

Both the city and WSDOT say they are aware of the site.

KOMO reached out to WSDOT officials who shared this in a statement:

“We are aware of the encampment near this location on I-5. Encampments on state rights of way are a complex issue and with no easy solution and one that requires strong, multi-partner efforts and a humane, compassionate approach. As we continue to address this challenge, many factors are at play, including housing and shelter availability, along with sufficient time for effective joint-effort outreach with several state agencies and local jurisdictions. When these resources align for each site, WSDOT will post a 72 hour advance notice; but we do not announce sites before those efforts are underway.”

City officials say they send teams out weekly to clean up trash, including recently as this past Wednesday.

They also shared this:

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“The City is aware of this site under the north side of the Ship Canal Bridge. The City has done weekly trash mitigation at that site, most recently this past Wednesday. As this is a WSDOT property, WSDOT will be the lead agency on any further action at this site, including any outreach through their contract with KCRHA [King Co. Regional Homelessness Authority].”

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