City plans assessment of ‘The Jungle;’ homeless residents fear eviction after violence

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SEATTLE – A homeless camp called 'The Jungle' has a notorious history of drugs and violence – but it’s also home for many who don’t have anywhere else to go.

After Tuesday night's deadly shooting, many people living there worry officials could close The Jungle for good.

The Washington State Department of Transportation said it has cleared out areas inside The Jungle twice in 2015, once in the summer and again in the fall.

But people keep cutting through the fences and setting up camp almost immediately afterwards.

For folks like Todd Lorenz who works nearby, he thinks it’s time to close the camp for good.

“You never know what you’re going to run into,” he said. “It’s better just to stay away.”

Lorenz said he’s seen firsthand how dangerous this area can be.

“Women come into our shop who have claimed to have been raped,” he said.

After five people were shot at the unsanctioned camp, homeless people worry about the violence and wonder how long before they will be removed.

The Jungle sprawls underneath I-5 just south of downtown Seattle. It’s filled with homeless people living in tents and piles of trash and discarded needles.

Across the street, city and state crews cleared a different unsanctioned camp area on Wednesday.

Police said about a dozen people were living there. The evicted homeless were offered help from social services, but some would rather stay on the streets. That means crossing the road and climbing back into The Jungle.

“We got kicked out of down there,” said one homeless man.

Another homeless man named Don said he’s been living on the streets for a decade. Don said he knows one of the people killed in Tuesday’s shooting, but he prefers to stay in The Jungle and he hopes to stay a while.

“They kick you out of everywhere you go,” he said. “Where do you go? Nowhere. Under a bridge.”

City officials plan to send a team into The Jungle to assess the area and try to count exactly how many homeless people live in the camp.