SEATTLE – The death of a woman in an unsanctioned homeless camp overnight is being investigated by Seattle police as a homicide.
Her death come weeks after a fatal shooting at another unsanctioned camp in the Sodo district.
So we wanted to know, what do the two candidates in the Seattle mayor’s race plan to do with the city’s expensive and growing homeless problem?
Ever since the infamous Jungle homeless camp underneath I-5 was closed back in 2016 after a mass shooting, more tents have popped up all over the city – especially in Sodo.
Candidate Jenny Durkan, a former U.S. attorney, believes unsanctioned camps should be cleaned and cleared while candidate Cary Moon, an urban planner, says the sweeps only push people further into insecurity and danger.
In 2016 alone, the city says it spent $55 million on housing, shelters and outreach on the fast-growing homeless population.
“We need to focus on getting more short-term shelter that is accessible to people, but ultimately more affordable homes so people can live there,” said Durkan during Wednesday’s debate with Moon.
Durkan says more money should be spent on emergency shelters and insisted the sweeps must continue.
“I think we need to relocate people out of the unsanctioned camps. They are unsafe, there have been homicides, human trafficking, they’re unhealthy. They’re no places people need to be living,” she said.
“Social services have been cut, addiction services treatment has been cut,” said Moon.
Moon believes the unsanctioned camp sweeps are inhumane and don’t respect the property rights of homeless people. But she also believes more money needs to be spent to solve the problem.
“You know, I think the research shows we are not adequately funding this. We have great service providers who are doing their best with the resources they have -- we are simply not keeping up,” said Moon.
“There is a ton of crime, prostitution, we see the drug dealers,” said one woman who asked Q13 News to conceal her identity.
She works near one of the unsanctioned camps and after someone was shot and killed recently, she believes the illegal camps put both homeless people and anyone else who happens to work nearby in danger.
“It shouldn't have taken somebody to be murdered to move this camp out,” she said.