SEATTLE -- Want a view of the Space Needle? A group of homeless people built a tent "mansion" in a small patch of grass between Third Avenue and Broad Street. It's a half a block from Seattle's most famous tourist attraction and surrounded by multi-million dollar high-rise condos.
"We've got the doors, the couch, the table," said Melissa Burns. She's currently living in the new camp. "We've got the living room here, which is a mess right now because we're still constructing, but we're puttin' up the vinyl to cover it up, make it more attractive." (I mean, you got to keep up with the Joneses.)
One downtown worker we spoke to wasn't that upset.
"It's certainly an eyesore. But I don't think they have a lot of options," Lou Bequette said. "So, I guess they gotta do what they gotta do."
People living at the camp told Q13, they set up this new home after the city forced them out of a nearby park.
"Well, I won't say we're being discreet. We're obviously not. We're right in front of the Space Needle," Burns said. "Some people are cheering us on. Some people are really angry about it."
Those living in the camp said they expect to stay for 60 days, or until the city forces them to move.
City of Seattle spokesman Will Lemke said the city has inspected the site and will continue to monitor and evaluate it. Mental health teams are also working with the city to figure out if there’s any way to convince the people living in the camp to go somewhere safer.
Right now, the city has no immediate plans to remove the camp, but Lemke said that could change in the future barring some kind of problem or safety concern.
"It is a form of protest," Burns added. "We're staking a claim. We're refusing to cower in our tents... If you can live on the street and not pay rent, then why would you pay rent?"