‘Nickelsville’ closure countdown continues: WIN vigil, night 2; HPAC awaits action

August 26, 2013 at 11:47 pm | In 'Nickelsville' encampment, West Seattle news | 33 Comments

(WSB photo from Monday night, looking southeast from the encampment’s main gate)
Less than a week remains until September 1st, the date the city has proclaimed and posted for closing the site where the encampment that calls itself “Nickelsville” has been for more than two years. Again tonight, the Westside Interfaith Network brought volunteers to keep vigil outside the encampment, near the busy intersection of West Marginal Way SW and Highland Park Way SW:

Organizer Mary Anne deVry says her understanding is that people are continuing to arrive at Nickelsville, rather than clearing out as the deadline nears; we had heard the same thing in our conversation with a manager from Union Gospel Mission, brought in by the city to spend at least some of the allocated $500,000 to find housing and other services for campers. But again, this week’s nightly vigils by WIN (6-9 pm each evening through Saturday) – a primarily faith-based coalition of churches/organizations in the West Seattle/White Center vicinity – are meant to shine a light on the plight of homeless people, not necessarily to oppose the closure of the encampment, although deVry and other volunteers continue to wonder where the estimated 150 or so there will go.

They shouldn’t have been allowed to put down roots there in the first place, contends Highland Park Action Committee co-chair Carolyn Stauffer, whose community council is headquartered just up the Highland Park Way hill.

(WSB photo, May 2011)
Five days after the camp’s return to the site in May 2011 – the site where it was founded, and from which former Mayor Greg Nickels evicted it days later – current Mayor Mike McGinn told WSB he would not make the campers leave.

Via e-mail, Stauffer told WSB:

… I continue to be floored by the Mayor and the City Council’s willingness to blatantly ignore existing laws as they relate to everyone’s health, safety, and welfare, and their lack of desire to be political leaders or to be problem solvers unless political heat is on. I have also been shocked by the desire of the Mayor and City Council to force this social dilemma onto neighborhoods and to make us the bad guys in this situation – McGinn went so far as to request of us to make more of a stir in the media so he could act with political cover instead of doing what was right in the first place – right for the neighbors and right for the homeless living in Nickelsville. This problem is so easily painted as us and them, which makes it easy for the city to then throw up their hands and say “oh well, the neighbors are NIMBY’s, they don’t want you there- you gotta go.” In reality, Mayor McGinn hasn’t taken charge of this situation, and was not a strong leader from the beginning. By ignoring the unsanctioned encampment for two years, Nickelsville, and the “suburbs of Nickelsville” (as my neighbor Kay so eloquently put it) has put down some roots here and is now facing a standoff come September 1st – just in time for McGinn’s re-election campaign. The Mayor and some members of City Council have known about the rat infestation in the camp, they have known about rapes, about barrings for 911 calls, about violence, drugs, the questionable tactics of leadership in the camp, and the mass exodus into the greenbelt. They have been asked to step up and show some leadership by us for two years now – but they know our neighborhood doesn’t have the luxurious resources of time and energy that a lot of other neighborhoods have to make themselves heard.

My only advice for the next neighborhood doesn’t have to do with the homeless or with Nickelsville itself- welcome them, volunteer, help- but stay on the Mayor and the City Council to make sure they don’t just try to sweep this huge problem under the rug of the city’s fringes again, and hold their feet to the fire from the beginning. Turning a blind eye to the homeless, to our neighborhood, and to the city’s largest greenbelt obviously hasn’t led to any solutions.

We asked her if HPAC had heard anything from the city over the summer as the deadline approached. She said they’ve “not had much contact with anyone from the city other than Jerry DeGrieck,” the mayor’s advisor for issues including human services, who she says “told us that he has “been working with a team from Human Services, Parks, and Police to do weekly trips to identify, post, engage (outreach), and clear encampments in the Greenbelt and all areas around Nickelsville.”

Still no update, on any front, regarding what will happen Sunday if the city deadline arrives with people remaining at Nickelsville itself.

33 Comments

  1. It funny
    They wouldnt want all this homeless crud if it was the bushes on thier land that the crack parties were happening in. Im sick of all the junkies cutting thru my yard and dumping all kinds of crud all over my neighborhood. Not to mention all the stuff from our street gone missing.
    Im sure there are some good people who deserve help there but they are obviously outnumbered by crackhead fake soldiers who demand your change everytime you hit Wmarginal n highland park way.
    I want my neighborhood back from the crackheads and it is time for them to all go.
    Anyone who doubts what im saying message me and i will meet you and show you exactly the problem

    Comment by Jeff — 8:40 am August 27, 2013 #

  2. jeff.. i wish your problem would go away when the current site for nickelsville is vacated.. but the truth is that the crackdowns in the greenbelt are likely to do more than closing down the camp

    Comment by Joanne Brayden — 9:01 am August 27, 2013 #

  3. Free rent everybody, free rent come and get it!! Courtesy of Nickelsville and The Union Gospel Mission.

    Comment by Rotten Apple — 9:03 am August 27, 2013 #

  4. Jeff two years ago when I was a weekly volunteer for the kids in this camp I would have disagreed with you and so would my daughter how would accompany me, but this past year it is a camp of criminals, you can see it when you drive by, the thieves selling all the stolen bikes, drug addicts with their arms tied off along the shoulder, prostitures working the street. Sorry to say a few bad ones ruined a good camp, I am praying for the children of this camp that they find a safe place to live.

    Comment by Silly Goose — 9:19 am August 27, 2013 #

  5. Interesting that the number of crackheads in the greenbelt soared dramatically when Nickelsville showed up, isn’t it?

    Probably completely unrelated though.

    Comment by Lester — 9:27 am August 27, 2013 #

  6. This is only the beginning. The city has a “Plan to End Homelessness”. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE HOMELESS PEOPLE!!!! For many it is a choice. Our plan to “end homelessness” will attract more vagrants than I care to imagine. It is coming. then how much will it cost our tax payers when we learned (10years 5000 more homeless poeple later) that we have toO large of a problem? The homeless have a travel network. We will incur the cost of taking care of any homelss person that is ablke to make it to our area. They have already come and will continue to come. Council member Rasmussen said “the homeless in San Diego are calling us Free-attle” Here they come……

    Comment by j — 10:14 am August 27, 2013 #

  7. Thank you WSB for your continued extremely professional coverage of this, also to the WSB readers who have been having way more constructive conversations about the homeless issue than on larger “main stream media” outlets.

    Today as I just drove up the Boeing Hill on Highland Park Way noticed that SPD, King County Health and Parks were out cleaning out camps north and west of NV in the green belt.

    Hopefully going forward, as city/county officials look for better solutions they would learn that siting a temporary facility like this is best not done on a location with additional seemingly endless possibilities for free range camping within city limits right across the street.

    Comment by Kay K — 11:24 am August 27, 2013 #

  8. I am curious to know what areas of West Seattle DeVry and other vigil holders are located? I would also wonder if they have spoken with residents above the greenbelt, in the Highland Park area on top of the hill and near the Westcrest Dog Park to get their opinions on the camp? I am a resident who has lived over the greenbelt for the last few years and for the past 2 since the encampment has been there, have seen my neighborhood dramatically shift. From crimes and pollution to the loud music that was coming from the camp at 3:00 am this morning, it has gotten out of control I hope that the 150 are able to find homes but I also really hope that by September 1st, Nickelsville will be vacated.

    Comment by KG — 11:49 am August 27, 2013 #

  9. I’m trying to figure out how they might have loud music w/ no electricity.. Ye, there are batteries, but they cost, and there is no money there for that, is there? Just curious…could the music be coming from another source? I live in the Admiral District, and I am privileged to hear music at ll hours of the night, too.

    Comment by JanS — 12:50 pm August 27, 2013 #

  10. Yes, there are things called rechargable batteries and when you can you can recharge them for free you tend to use them more often. And how would you know that there’s no money? Or is that just your opinion being stated as fact? Seems to be lots of that going on concerning this situation. Please throw some more guilt my way, I sure could use it.

    Comment by Rick — 1:42 pm August 27, 2013 #

  11. rick..
    explain to me how “they” are recharging batteries for free?
    is that kind of like their “free” rent?

    someone is picking up the bill for running the generators and those portapotties and …

    i can give you a hint..
    you the taxpayer haven’t spent a dime so far

    but you are footing the bill for the assessments UGM is running
    and you will foot the bill for their eviction

    Comment by JoB — 2:31 pm August 27, 2013 #

  12. I for one have donated probably 200 batteries, propane tanks, tarps, blankets, dog food on and on, along with many many more people. They have alot of supplies that they check out or just sign for that they need from the donation bin. They also have a savings account the citizens donate to that they use money out of for things.

    Comment by Silly Goose — 3:35 pm August 27, 2013 #

  13. People afford what they want to afford, batteries included.

    Comment by jissy — 4:06 pm August 27, 2013 #

  14. nope. only down and out families and children live at NV…at least according to the supporters of NV.

    Comment by flimflam — 4:45 pm August 27, 2013 #

  15. flimflam..
    .
    i am a huge supporter of Nickelsville
    and i have never said that only down and out families and children live at Nickelsville
    .
    i have met quite a few people with serious chronic medical conditions as well.. some of them terminal.
    .
    i have met single people trying to get ahead on minimum wage jobs.. often through temp agencies that hold their paychecks for weeks hoping that someone without a permanent address will be afraid to rock the boat and file a complaint.
    .
    I have also met hard core druggies and dopers and felons.. some with outstanding warrants.
    .
    i am not willing to let any of them die in the field below our homes simply because i personally disapprove of the habits of some.
    .
    but then, i take that help they neighbor thing literally.
    .
    you can ask mine. i wasn’t about to let him wither away to nothing either.

    Comment by JoB — 5:11 pm August 27, 2013 #

  16. by the way..
    those temp agencies that hold paychecks hoping that people without a proper address will be afraid to file a complaint..
    most of the time they are right..
    .
    they get paid by the companies that hire their workers whether those workers get paid or not..
    and too often they don’t.
    .
    most of them don’t have the resources to keep funding the expenses of going to work every day without the paycheck that should be paying those expenses…
    .
    and those that keep working are afraid to lose their jobs.
    .
    your flimflam moniker would lead one to believe you understand that it’s a tough world out there when you don’t have a place to call your own..
    but maybe not.

    Comment by JoB — 5:15 pm August 27, 2013 #

  17. If those people really care about the homeless, let them set up a campsite on their own private property. Somehow I doubt this will happen.

    Comment by Dave — 7:04 pm August 27, 2013 #

  18. Appreciate the inside story from the HPAC person on how McGinn floundered about on this whole fiasco that was of his making. Of course he got help with his floundering from the City Council. And no surprise that he and all the rest of the politicos ran for cover, behind the skirts and pants of a neighborhood group no less. There is no shame these people know.
    -
    McGinn and all the City Council people are paid a LOT of money to deal with running this city, and they didn’t in this case because it was in the hinterlands of Highland Park so they could ignore it. Pretty much like what they have done up in Lake City. Instead of being leaders, we have lame politicians who would rather play around with stupid things like plastic bags, sports stadiums and bicycling luxuries.
    -
    Nickelsville needs to be shut down by the deadline date, and the people that keep streaming in to make make what is only going to be some made for TV political stunt ought to take what they are offered by the Union Gospel Mission as it is as good as it is going to get.

    Comment by No Surprise — 8:05 pm August 27, 2013 #

  19. Anyone posting on this blog who thinks that the good people of Seattle are not supportive of social services and housing for those less fortunate than themselves have their heads and their hearts in the wrong region of the country. As far back as I can remember, the taxpayers of this city have voted in FAVOR of increasing the taxes they pay to support various programs and facilities. The homeless and homefree problem is NOT something that Seattle alone can solve, and if we as Seattleites keep trying it will make even more people in this city sink into poverty. It will take all of Washington States Counties and the rest of the nation to solve it, if that is even possible. So lay off the friggin’ guilt trippin’ as you are going to kill the goose that lays the eggs.

    Comment by No Surprise — 8:13 pm August 27, 2013 #

  20. You can generally place the “homeless” in to four categories:
    1. Mentally Ill
    2. Substance Abuse
    3. Misfortunate Occurrences
    4. Personal Choice.
    For category 1, because of the US Supreme Court ruling in the mid-late 80′s there is nothing that can be done to get them off the street unless they self-commit. The CAN NOT be involuntarily committed for over 48 hours. Nor can they be forced to take their medications that might help them cope with their illness.
    For category 2, you can get these people into rehab, but unless they are ready to “kick” the habit it’s a waste of time and money that could go toward helping those that want to get off and outta the druggie world.
    For category 3, THESE ARE THE ONES THAT THE MAIN FOCUS SHOULD BE ON!!!! They are trying to get back on their feet and are working toward that any way they can.
    Category 4 are the bane of society. They EXPECT us to take care of them; feed them, cloth them, provide shelter for them; medicine if they get sick and free transportation to where ever and whenever to want to go anywhere. Some studies have shown that the numbers of this type make up anywhere between 40%-60% of the homeless population. This is the category that should get ZERO funding. If they WANT to live that way, then it is up to THEM to find a way to survive.
    There is a bigger problem here in Seattle because of the generosity of the City Clowncil to fund homeless programs to the tune of $30,000,000+, that we have a HUGE out of area population that migrated here because of that generosity. These “people” suck the funds and shelters that could, and should be, going to assisting “OUR” homeless.

    Comment by Ex-Westwood Resident — 8:32 pm August 27, 2013 #

  21. Ex-Westwood, nice post–perfect assessment.
    .
    You sound like an experienced person who knows what they are talking about!
    .
    How refreshing is that?

    Comment by JoAnne — 9:46 pm August 27, 2013 #

  22. Wow! Do we have enough hate speech towards homeless people? Instead of complaining about the problem, be part of the solution. Oh wait, you think all homeless people are drunks and crackheads. @ Westwood, I do not agree with your statement that category three deserves it first. We treat mentally ill and substance abusers like the scum of the earth in this society. It’s time we had some compassion and helped the least in our society. It is something I am passionate about, and have dedicated my life too.

    Comment by T — 4:34 am August 28, 2013 #

  23. But those four “categories” all overlap. The substance abuse is self-medication for the mental illness. The job-loss was made more likely by the substance problem. The “personal choice” is a symptom of the illness. The mental illness was made worse by misfortune.
    .
    Above all, it probably took years to get to that place, and will probably take years to get back out. A job doesn’t do it, unless there’s a mentor willing to work closely with making sure that the client gets to work every day.

    Comment by Community Member — 6:06 am August 28, 2013 #

  24. JoB= I’ve contributed to Nville and to an ex resident. Bought them food and medicine, jackets for winter and gave them money. Even job offers but was replied to as “Oh, I couldn’t do that”. So now I am supporting several hundered thousand in medical bills and a lifetime of support for someone who can enjoy their life for someone who is physically able but “couldn’t do that”. But they can blog 24/7 disdaing those who support them. It’s called “entitlement”. You know it and, well ,I best end my rant now.

    Comment by Rick — 6:51 am August 28, 2013 #

  25. Rick..
    i too have flushed money down the toilet of entitlement…
    .
    I have witnessed failures and been the “victim” of those trying to take advantage of me…
    .
    yes, i do know it well
    too well
    someone i helped until he got into housing is hosing me publicly now..
    .
    but i have also been there with assistance at that critical moment that begins to move people from the street and into the fringes of mainstream society.
    .
    mentoring works.
    .
    it doesn’t work all of the time.. but it works often enough to keep me at it.
    .
    i know it works…
    because if a stranger hadn’t helped me once i wouldn’t be able to help others now.
    .
    all we can do is offer opporotunity
    whether that opportunity is ultimately used or abused is out of our hands

    Comment by JoB — 7:44 am August 28, 2013 #

  26. The fact that the population of NV has ballooned in recent weeks gives credence to the “Freeattle” rumors. If the population of NV is 125 (up from 100) that’s $4k per person. For me, that’s months of hard labor.

    I’ve also had the same experience as Rick, in that I suggested to a very able-bodied young beggar at Westwood that he could earn $15 per hour cash pulling weeds – unlimited work available. He laughed loudly, and said “I know, huh?!!”

    Comment by anonyme — 7:45 am August 28, 2013 #

  27. No surprise..
    it’s not enough to agree to pony up the dollars
    we need to follow through to make sure they are being spent effectively
    and accomplish their stated purpose
    .
    i have some hard questions about how that $5000,000 has been spent to help “relocate the residents of Nickelsville”
    .
    i think you should too.

    Comment by JoB — 7:48 am August 28, 2013 #

  28. Sorry, please get the decimals in the right place:

    $500,000.

    Comment by Kay K — 9:22 pm August 28, 2013 #

  29. Tonight’s update – they say they have the three sites they need to move everyone, but they won’t say where the other two are until Friday … http://westseattleblog.com/?p=162244

    Comment by WSB — 9:24 pm August 28, 2013 #

  30. I am really looking forward to the next excuse people use to blame the bad things that happen in our area on. I fully expect that after sunday and overnight things will no longer end up missing, there will no longer be trash in the street, the inconvenience of being asked for change will go away, etc.

    NV gave me the opportunity to encourage my kids to be compassionate, reiterate the importance of paying attention in school and to focus on long term goals. To always know that we would always be there for them no matter what.

    I’m glad NV residents have found places to move to, it’s nice to be able to say that there are great people in this world who helped with that transition.

    I’m thankful that I was raised in a good home with amazing support, that in both the good times and the bad the people who I needed the most were always there for me. In many cases of homelessness that’s what is missing, support and dedication.

    Rant over :)

    Comment by Over it all — 10:25 pm August 28, 2013 #

  31. I think taxpayers deserve an accounting of how the money has been/will be allocated, especially as donations are still being solicited. While I’m glad that new sites have been secured, they are not permanent. What happens when those sites reach their expiration date?

    Comment by anonyme — 7:37 am August 29, 2013 #

  32. kay k

    sorry.. my mistake slipped right past my censors
    thanks for correcting me.

    Comment by JoB — 8:30 am August 29, 2013 #

  33. JoB,
    You shouldn’t have to say thanks for what “kay k” corrected, besides she was WRONG!!!
    It’s called a COMMA when it denotes the groupings of three. A DECIMAL denotes the CENTS.
    So “kay k” it would look like this:
    $500 (COMMA) 000 (Decimal) 00 = $500,000.00

    Comment by Ex-Westwood Resident — 12:21 pm August 29, 2013 #

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