SHARE/WHEEL, the group that operates the illegal homeless encampment Nickelsville, didn't turn out the troops at today's city council meeting—where council members approved $500,000 to help Nickelsville residents after the city evicts them from their current site in Southwest Seattle on September 1—but that was probably because the legislation, which passed unanimously, was already a foregone conclusion.
Instead, a few Nickelsville advocates, including Occupy poster girl (and onetime mayoral candidate) Dorli Rainey and Church Council leader (and onetime city council candidate) David Bloom, took the mike in public comment to ask the council to spend the money wisely, and—in Bloom's case—to point out that spending $500,000 on services, outreach, and shelter for Nickelsville residents wouldn't put a dent in the city's homelessness problem. "Nickelsville is an emergency. What about the 3,000 people who have no shelter to go to? Is that not an emergency?"
"While we can certainly support the designation of $500,000 to focus on the need for services and housing for 100 residents [of Nickelsville], even if all of those people are moved into shelter the next day, there are going to be another 100 people in line," Bloom said. "You talk about 'emergency.' Nickelsville is an emergency. What about the 3,000 people who have no shelter to go to? Is that not an emergency?"
Council member Sally Bagshaw raised the possibility of expanding the bill to cover people camping in the greenbelts adjacent to Nickelsville; after several council members pointed out that doing so would dilute the impact the money would have on the Nickelsville residents for whom it was intended, and that the city has no idea how many people are camping in the greenbelt, Bagshaw dropped the proposal.
Nick Licata, who has proposed separate legislation to expand the areas of the city where encampments are allowed, said, "One of the advantages of a well-managed encampment, which I recognize Nickelsville may not be [is that] there’s a place for someone to go for privacy on a 24/7 basis, as opposed to a shelter for one night. ... It is not an adequate home. It is not the solution to permanent housing. But on a temporary basis, it may serve as a more humane transition to housing."
Licata's housing and human services committee will hold a public hearing on his encampment legislation in council chambers at city hall (600 4th Ave.) tomorrow at 5:30pm.