Manager of 'Camp Second Chance' worries community support for homeless declining

SEATTLE -- News of a transient man accused of rape spread quickly among the area’s sanctioned homeless camps, which includes Camp Second Chance off Myers Way in South Seattle.

Eric Davis runs a tight ship at Camp Second Chance's tiny house village.

“You need to get up and go look for work,” Davis tells residents. He's the co-founder and resident manager of Camp Second Chance.

It’s one of the many requirements to live in this city-sanctioned camp.  While some people may have a criminal background, there’s zero tolerance for new offenses.

“If there’s a fact and there’s a police report and a witness, then you need to find somewhere else to stay,” said Davis.

Davis added that a transient man who once lived in a different, former city-sanctioned camp and who is now accused of raping a woman at a Ballard car dealership is casting a shadow over all homeless people.

“That one rapist just because he may have been homeless … there’s one (rapist) living in that neighborhood over there. There are murderers living next to people in million-dollar houses. You can’t judge one person because you have the same background,” said Davis.

The allegations come at an especially bad time for this encampment.  We first met Davis and his campers at a meeting back in March where they asked the city for a permit renewal to stay open.  But cases like the rape make it harder to gain community support.

Anger and frustration over more tax dollars to fund the homeless problem means tiny house villages like Camp Second Chance are under the microscope.  Davis argues the city should be under fire.

“If money was spent wisely and there was a team going around to check every dollar, how it’s spent, things would go a lot better,” said Davis.

That’s the only way he would support Seattle's new employee tax because, he says, getting the money and not having it spent wisely would further hurt efforts to help the homeless.

“When it comes to homelessness, and if they’re spending it well and they will build affordable housing, yeah, there’s a need for it,” said Davis.

Davis also says if Seattle’s employee tax doesn’t go well, it will hurt other taxes or campaigns to support the homeless.  So he wants the city to be transparent about how they’re spending the money.

He says at Camp Second Chance their books are wide open for people to check on how they use city funding and donations.