Crime, sanitation cited as reasons for Seattle homeless camp sweep

SEATTLE – Criminal activity, sanitary issues – that’s why you probably saw city crews sweeping an unsanctioned homeless camp near Dearborn and 10th Streets on Monday.

Officials say while some people took offers for shelter, dozens more are on the move looking for a new place to set up camp.

While crews have been working to help those living in this camp for several days, officials say crime and health hazards were the main reasons for the sweep.

Last week, Seattle Police raided two camps in the same area finding drugs, weapons and $20,000 in cash. Typical of most other sweeps, including Monday’s, the city says many don’t take offers for shelter and instead move to another site.

“About a third of the people take shelter, about a third take case management and another third hopefully we’ll contact them,” said SPD’s Eric Zerr.

And while some SODO business leaders are optimistic now that SPD is working on emphasis patrols to combat property crimes and the hiring of a public safety advisor for the mayor’s office, there is a concern that Monday’s sweep could push a vulnerable population into other neighborhoods.

“We know people are just moving around,” said Erin Goodman with the Sodo Improvement Area. “We need a better solution that provides a safe and sanitary place for people to be."

Clean-up at the scene will last several more days, according to officials who said, "in the coming months, the city plans to ask for feedback on what to do to keep the green space from returning to an unsanctioned camp."