Citing safety concerns, Seattle crews sweep another homeless camp

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SEATTLE — Dozens of homeless people were forced Tuesday to move from their homeless camp in the Sodo district of Seattle.

City crews swept an unauthorized homeless camp at Edgar Martinez Drive and 4th Avenue South on Tuesday.

Many in the camp told Q13 News they had already been swept out of other campsites only weeks before.

City officials said accumulating trash and safety concerns forced the sweep, saying one resident died from a heroin overdose in the camp last week.

Several people took offers for shelter, but some activists said the sweeps are a waste of time and money and needlessly disrupt the lives of everyone living in the camp.

“We’re getting swept for the 100th time,” said homeless camper Thea. “Really I don’t know what to think anymore.”

Tuesday’s sweep meant the second time in a month Thea had to pack up everything she owns.

“We need to find a common ground,” she said.

Several homeless campers said people have been living in the camp for months but the population exploded after city crews swept ‘The Field’ homeless camp earlier this month.

“It’s really quite disgusting to see that we’ve allowed this to be a part of our normal day-to-day scenery,” said Kristine Moreland, with the More Love Project.

City agencies and nonprofit organizations offered many people services and shelter; some people accepted the offers.

While the city of Seattle pledged to save as much of people’s property as it can, many campers worry they could lose important documents and priceless connections to their past.

“This isn’t just people’s stuff, this is their homes,” said Simon Stephens, with Stop the Sweeps Seattle.

Seattle police and outreach teams tried to offer everyone a safer place to stay but Stephens worries the sweeps do more harm than good.

“It never ends, it’s just a vicious cycle,” he said.

Not everyone swept from the camp took offers of shelter or services, which could mean other unauthorized homeless camps may pop up in new areas.

City crews are planning another sweep for Wednesday along South Spokane Street. Those camps are close to where a Seattle cyclist told Q13 News she was attacked last week.