Homeless encampments pop up in more Seattle neighborhoods; city leaders disagree on solution

SEATTLE -- Many people may be aware of the tents hidden under I-5 but now homeless encampments are out in the open in new neighborhoods and impossible to ignore.

“Tents anywhere and everywhere,” north Seattle resident Kimberly Hakola said.

Q13 News noticed more areas around Seattle where people are living on the streets.

On Tuesday, Q13 News saw one along the sidewalk near the Fremont Bridge in Seattle.

Tents are also taking over the corner of 3rd and Broad next to the Pacific Science Center and close to the Space Needle. Pedestrians walked by as a man living in one of the tents openly urinated in the street in broad daylight.

“It’s definitely something new, I haven’t seen it before,” pedestrian Hannah Lee said

As Seattleites take detours, city leaders are at odds on how to solve the homeless crisis.

“We haven’t been able to figure out a system,” Seattle City Councilman Mike O’Brien said.

O’Brien is behind a new legislation that would require the city to provide a 30-day eviction warning for many campers but not before the city finds a new place for them to go.

“Their belongings are there, that’s the big challenge,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien wants to prevent the shuffling of homeless people, making it easier for the displaced to keep their belongings, until the city can help find permanent housing.

But Councilman Tim Burgess called the legislation ill-advised, saying it would create more problems for the city.

“This ordinance creates a right for people to camp in our cities, something we have never said in Seattle’s history,” Burgess said.

Burgess called the legislation a distraction that will do nothing to push people to get the help they need.

“Not one person will move from living on the street to a home; it does nothing to deal with drug addiction and mental illness,” Burgess said.

Burgess says his colleagues on the City Council are making amendments to the legislation clarifying where tents can go but Burgess says the amendments are still not enough to cure what he calls bad legislation.

If the proposal passes, Burgess believes, more homeless encampments will pop up all over Seattle.

But Burgess may not have the votes to defeat O’Brien’s push.

Residents like Hakola say the last thing she needs is someone camping outside her home.

“We have some people living in an abandoned garage next door so that’s concerning with my daughter,” Hakola said.

Hakola just moved back to Seattle after being away for 15 years. She says it’s shocking to see how bad the homeless problem has become. She understands it’s a complicated issue with no easy solution.

The camping ordinance is up for a possible vote on October 14.