The city council and mayor Mike McGinn announced today that the city will use an abandoned fire station in Lake City as a permanent homeless shelter and make it easier for churches and other religious institutions to house tent cities on their property.

As I reported a week ago,  Nickelsville—the roving SHARE/WHEEL-run homeless encampment that is currently housed in the fire station, will relocate on May 15 to an undisclosed location.

The legislation announced today will start the process of permitting Fire Station 39 as a homeless shelter, and will repeal the city's consent decree, which limits the number of tent cities allowed at churches in the city at any one time. [pullquote]Today's announcement doesn't resolve the long-term question of where and whether to establish a semi-permanent encampment for the homeless.[/pullquote]

Today's announcement doesn't resolve the long-term question of where and whether to establish a semi-permanent encampment for the homeless. McGinn initially proposed locating an encampment on the site of the old Sunny Jim's peanut butter plant in SODO, but the council rejected that proposal, arguing that the site would require a lengthy environmental review, would almost certainly trigger legal challenges, and was not included on a list of sites recommended by a citizen panel appointed by McGinn last year.

Council members are considering alternatives including a buying a motel and converting it to transitional housing; allowing residents to build more permanent wooden structures; or locating a tent encampment on one of the sites that were recommended by the panel in the first place.

City council member Nick Licata's housing committee took up the encampment question yesterday, when representatives of two groups that provide services to homeless people made the case for the need for semi-permanent encampments to augment existing shelter beds, arguing that with thousands of people still living on Seattle streets and little funding for permanent housing, encampments are a necessary stopgap solution.

The PI.com has more on today's announcement.
Share
Show Comments