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Mayor admits cleaning up homeless ‘Jungle’ will take time

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SEATTLE -- Despite aggressive attempts to clean up the dangerous 'Jungle' encampment under I-5, at least 100 homeless people remain and are refusing to leave.

On Wednesday, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray admitted that it’s going to take longer and require more money to finish the job, leaving open the possibility that many will continue to call it home.

“It is going to take time, and it will take more than the resources of the City of Seattle to do it,” Murray said.

By enlisting service providers who have been offering shelter and counseling, about 250 people have left the area since January.  But at least 100 remain, who seem committed to staying.  And the mayor is ready to let that happen, at least for now.

“We’re moving in the right direction, but we are not there yet,” he said.  “People are taking services. Crime is down. The rapes, the murders, the shootings for the most part have stopped. The fires that were threatening the freeway structure itself have mostly stopped.”

Murray said it will take a much bigger commitment by the state, which owns the land under I-5.  Moreover, it will take Seattle Police to forcibly remove those who remain -- an extreme move that would actually take the approval of the City Council.

“I don’t know, quite honestly, how you would ever completely secure the place,” he said. “Without additional resources, and the state deciding how they want to manage their own property, it will probably be impossible, as I have said before, to move everybody.”