New Seattle homeless-camp openings delayed

SEATTLE — If promises had been kept, Seattle’s growing homeless problem at “The Jungle” and “The Field” could have been helped sooner.

Instead, sweeps have forced hundreds of people to move with few options other than to live on the street illegally.

That’s the reality facing homeless advocates and the city of Seattle after plans for three sanctioned encampment sites hit delays throughout 2017.

In December, in the midst of an "emergency order" by Mayor Ed Murray, the city announced plans for three sites that could house upwards of 200 homeless residents.

  1. 1000 S Myrtle Street will contain up to 50 tiny houses serving 60-70 people.
  2. 8620 Nesbit Ave N. will contain up to 50 tiny houses serving 60-70 people.
  3. 9701 Myers Way S will contain up to 50 tents serving 60-70 people.

Despite plans for an early January opening, none of the three sites from Greenwood, Georgetown, and White Center have accepted a single resident.

Tuesday, the city's Human Services department said unforeseen complications in the soil have paused the opening of the White Center location. It's unclear what needs to be studied or examined before installation can begin.

The timeline is slightly better for the Greenwood camp. The Low Income Housing Institute is opening the site and says it expects to have the tiny homes in place in April.

LIHI also manages the Georgetown location, which it is slated to open next Wednesday. It too has faced complications because of conflict between the city's desired hope for tents for temporary housing and the more stable tiny homes supported by LIHI.

The executive director of LIHI, Sharon Lee, said delays are occurring because of permitting for the homes and construction of the small units. Volunteers help put them together on site and that process has been slower than hoped.

"That takes time," Lee said.