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City council tells mayor to close Nickelsville

nickelsvilleSEATTLE — A majority of city council members sent a letter to Mayor Mike McGinn Monday requesting the city close the Nickelsville homeless encampment by Sept. 1, citing public health and safety concerns.

The letter was signed by seven members of the city council. Council members Mike O’Brien and Nick Licata didn’t sign.

Late last month, McGinn sent a letter to the council requesting the approval of either legislation that would permit long-term encampments like Nickelsville or the council take steps to better provide for the current site. The city responded to the mayor’s letter by stating it would continue on a predetermined path to invest in long-term, permanent housing solutions and transfer homeless out of tent encampments to housing.

Council members also stated the need to “address the concerns” of property owners near Nickelsville.

The council members’ letter denounced the “substandard living” provided by tent encampments, and advocated for a more permanent housing solution. The city advocated its joint agreement with King County to work on a ten year plan to end homelessness, saying improvements in shelters, low-income housing and car parking availability have occurred. Council members wanted to continue on long-term paths for “proven” solutions to homelessness, rather than offer temporary sites like Nickelsville.

“We believe that increased outreach, case management and investments in proven programs provide the best path to housing,” the letter stated.

Council members were prepared to invest resources in dismantling Nickelsville and finding new homes for the residents by Sept 1. The Seattle Times reported council members were ready to authorize up to $500,000 from the city’s general fund to pay for services.

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