SEATTLE — Angry members of the Nickelsville homeless tent city showed up at City Hall Wednesday to protest the impending closure of their encampment.
“I’m really frustrated about it,” Nickelsville resident Terry Smith said. “It’s just like going up against a brick wall, because, you know, they are not listening to us.”
The protest came about because of a letter earlier this week from City Council members saying Nickelsville must leave its current location on city-owned property on West Marginal Way by Sept. 1.
Smith, who has lived at Nickelsville for a year, says the community it provides is what’s kept him going. “I’m not on the street,” he said. “Nickelsville has given me a way out.”
But council members argue the time has come to disband the 2-year old homeless encampment.
“We know that there are health and safety concerns,” said City Councilman Tom Rasmussen, who, along with six of his colleagues, signed a letter to the mayor to shut the camp down. “There have been charges of criminal activity going on as well, and, you know, something has to be done to ensure that this doesn’t continue.”
Mayor Mike McGinn disagrees with the council’s decision to shut down the encampment.
“With the council not prepared to provide any other legal alternatives, and with their strong desire to sell the property to Food Lifeline, you know, I just had to accept the inevitable,” McGinn said.
For at least a couple years he has urged lawmakers to officially sanction a permanent spot for Nickelsville.
“September 1 is the date that’s out there. Unless the council wants to change their policy direction, that’s where we’re heading,” McGinn said.
The council members who are pushing to evict Nickelsville say they will provide up to $500,000 in public money to help the 125 members of the encampment find space in other estab