Seattle resident’s petition targets bill that would allow homeless camping in city parks
SEATTLE– As the city of Seattle works to clean out the longtime homeless camp known as ‘The Jungle’, many are now asking where the homeless will go next. Some are concerned they will relocate to neighborhood parks, due to a measure that would allow it.
Some fear the issues and crime that have been seen in the Jungle will follow the homeless into parks and areas where children play.
Elisabeth James is a mother, grandmother and now the author of an online petition, “Stop Seattle From Turning Our Parks Into Homeless Encampments.”
“If they need help, they need to be in rehab centers or get the mental health facilities open to them but not in a tent in a park where it’s just a sanitary condition,” said James.
So far, James has gathered more than 10,000 signatures opposing the city bill that would allow camping in over 5,200 acres of city parks throughout Seattle.
She fears some of the crime and problems from the Jungle will spill into their neighborhoods.
Seattle City Councilman Mike O’Brien admits that it might not be a popular solution but he says they are running out of options.
“No one is happy about people being swept up from under I-5 and showing up in their park and their kids can’t play,” said O’Brien. “We have to be more strategic and thoughtful, but to say ‘I want them out of my backyard’ doesn’t solve the problem.”
James agrees the homeless shouldn’t be in tents under I-5, but she argues they shouldn’t be in tents at all.
“It’s only going to prevent them from getting the help they need and prolonging them living in a self-defeating way,” said James.
So James’ solution is to get them shelter and in mental facilities or rehab, but the city says this is just a complex issue. There are people who don’t want help, so they say a short-term solution is better than none.