Seattle to enlarge team that oversees homeless camp removals

SEATTLE -- Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has announced the expansion of a team of police officers and outreach workers who interact with people living in the city's hundreds of unauthorized homeless camps.

The Navigation Team expansion announced Thursday will add about eight members for a total of 30 with $500,000 in funding from King County and the state.

City data shows that between January 2017 and the end of March this year, almost 200 unauthorized encampments of varying sizes were removed in Seattle.

City guidelines generally prevent removals of unsanctioned encampments unless there is enough available shelter for every camper, even if not everyone accepts those offers.

A lack of shelter space has at times slowed the pace of the cleanups, but Durkan's office has recently pushed toward creation of 500 new shelter beds in the city.