SEATTLE -- Outreach teams will start helping homeless people move out of several encampments scheduled to be shut down due to recent crime and other safety hazards.
Starting Monday, Seattle Police and outreach specialists will search the area underneath I-90 along South Dearborn Street and Rainier Avenue. Those living in the camps will be offered alternative shelter, storage for their belongings, and other services.
In just the past few weeks, Seattle Police report several violent crimes around the encampments including a shooting. City officials say two women were also attacked in separate incidents. One of them suffered severe stab wounds.
The city announced it would close down the camps after Seattle Police served a search warrant in connection to a drug operation Thursday morning. SWAT officers and Narcotics Unit detectives searched a tent where they believe drug dealers were selling heroin and meth. Police seized handguns, rifles, and swords. However, they did not make any arrests.
City officials say those living at the sites face safety and health risks. Along with the crime, small fires and piles of garbage at the homeless camps are also growing concerns.
It will take several weeks to close the camps. Cleanup will begin May 16th.