SEATTLE -- Seattle Mayor Ed Murray says the city will not force individuals living in the city’s most infamous homeless camp - known by some as “The Jungle" - at least not until more efforts are made to convince them to accept services.
“It’s going to take a whole bunch of intervention and a whole bunch of work with those individuals to eventually get them off the streets,” Mayor Murray told Q13 News.
His comments come after a new report found four out of every five people contacted by outreach teams in the encampment refused help offered to them by workers with the Union Gospel Mission. Just 64 of 338 people agreed to accept help, such as housing or relocation assistance, according to the report from the city’s Human Services Department.
"People are taking services. Crime is down. The rapes and murders and shootings for the most part have stopped," he said. "So we're moving in the right direction, but we're not there yet."
The mayor said Wednesday that the city will not give up on offering services to the roughly 100 people who remain in "The Jungle" – a 3-mile long, 150-acre camp that sits underneath and along Interstate 5.
“It’s going to take a whole bunch of intervention and whole bunch of work with those individuals to eventually get them off the streets,” Mayor Murray told Q13 News.
He did not, however, rule out removing individuals from "The Jungle" at some point, citing safety concerns.
"As I have said, time and time again, it is going to take time and it will take more than the resources of the city of Seattle to do it. Our policy and my position have not changed. It is not a safe place for people to be."
Mayor Murray said if officials at some point decide to permanently remove people from "The Jungle" two things would need to happen.
"The state would have to tell us how to shut it down and secondly I would ask for council approval to involve the police as well as human services to move people." he said.