West Seattle Blog... » ‘Nickelsville’ encampment http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Sat, 25 Oct 2014 17:25:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Thanksgiving giving: West Seattle’s Vietnamese Cultural Center visits encampments http://westseattleblog.com/2013/11/thanksgiving-giving-west-seattles-vietnamese-cultural-center-visits-encampments/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/11/thanksgiving-giving-west-seattles-vietnamese-cultural-center-visits-encampments/#comments Fri, 29 Nov 2013 05:47:24 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=257467

Volunteers from West Seattle’s Vietnamese Cultural Center kept their tradition of Thanksgiving giving for the encampment residents of “Nickelsville,” even though it moved on to three new locations three months ago. Center director Lee Bui shares the photos. He says the group led by Dr. Tran Hai Khanh, M.D., went to all three sites within a few hours at midday today, first Skyway, then the two encampments in central Seattle. The brought clothes and seafood gumbo and gave haircuts and vaccinations.

Bui says that while it was foggy, it was more beautiful than last year since it wasn’t raining!

The Vietnamese Cultural Center, if you haven’t been, is at 2236 SW Orchard, a block west of Delridge, and is open to the public on Saturday afternoons. This is the third year it’s brought a group of volunteers to Nickelsville – at the West Seattle site in 2011 and 2012, and now the three others – for Thanksgiving.

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Ex-’Nickelsville’ site: Campers’ cleanup ends, city cleanup begins http://westseattleblog.com/2013/09/ex-nickelsville-site-campers-cleanup-ends-city-cleanup-begins/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/09/ex-nickelsville-site-campers-cleanup-ends-city-cleanup-begins/#comments Tue, 10 Sep 2013 04:28:02 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=198077

Sunday – which is when WSB reader Kevin McClintic took these photos – was the eighth and final day for campers to clean up the former “Nickelsville” site at 7116 W. Marginal Way SW. Mayoral spokesperson Aaron Pickus confirmed to WSB today that the city had granted them access through the weekend, but that’s now over.

What they left behind consists mostly of a big stack of wood – this and more:

We noticed the giant pile when passing the site this afternoon. The city Department of Finance and Administrative Services is in charge of the city work at the site now, according to Pickus, so we checked with FAS spokesperson Katherine Schubert-Knapp. She says that installation of the temporary chain-link fence was to be completed today, as well as other work: “This fence will remain on site for up to six months as needed. Cleanup also start(ed) today, focusing first in the west side park and ride area. We’re hoping to finish that section by tomorrow and crews will then focus on the property inside the fence. That work should start this week and is expected to be completed by Sept. 20.” If you are just catching up with this story, after almost 2 1/2 years of occupying the West Marginal Way site, the encampment did not challenge city leaders’ plan to close it as of September 1st, and have since moved to three other sites, in the Central District, Madison Valley, and unincorporated Skyway.

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Ex-’Nickelsville’ site update: Back for cleanup, ’5S’-moving http://westseattleblog.com/2013/09/ex-nickelsville-site-update-back-for-cleanup-5s-moving/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/09/ex-nickelsville-site-update-back-for-cleanup-5s-moving/#comments Sat, 07 Sep 2013 22:26:46 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=163098

The cleanup and moving operation at the former “Nickelsville” site is in its seventh day. Top photo is the view from the former parking-lot entrance. The parking lot itself is a hub of activity as the remaining “5S”‘s are moved – the “small simple sturdy sleeping structures” still standing on the east end of the site. Today is a day to try to get all 14 of them moved, the camp announced via Facebook, so we went back for these photos:

The forklift and trucks are vital to what they’re doing now – trying to get those structures to the new campsites in the Central District, Madison Valley, and Skyway.

As we reported Thursday, the city has fenced off the site; the mayor’s office confirmed that the former campers would have access through Friday to continue cleanup, but that’s apparently been extended – we’ll check back with them Monday.

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West Seattle encampments: Ex-Nickelsville site fenced but not cleared; California Way cleanup http://westseattleblog.com/2013/09/west-seattle-encampments-ex-nickelsville-site-fenced-but-not-cleared-california-way-cleanup/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/09/west-seattle-encampments-ex-nickelsville-site-fenced-but-not-cleared-california-way-cleanup/#comments Thu, 05 Sep 2013 22:41:45 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=162952

On the fourth day after “Moving Day,” the former site of the “Nickelsville” encampment at 7116 West Marginal Way SW in West Seattle still isn’t clear; the photo above, taken this afternoon, shows the view southeast into the site from what was its parking-lot entrance. However, a chain-link fence went up today around its perimeter, as the city had promised – this view is from that same side, atop the steps:

>

And this view is on the north side, along Highland Park Way SW:

According to the Nickelsville Works Facebook page, the city will allow them access to the site through the end of tomorrow (Friday, September 6th) to clean up and pack up what’s left following the move to three other sites (all shown in our Sunday coverage). Mayoral spokesperson Aaron Pickus confirms that, and tells WSB that once that extension is over, “The City will clean up with the site with the appropriate equipment.”

Meanwhile, the city also continues to post and clear small campsites found in other areas. A resident tipped us to some clearing work in a greenbelt area along California Way between North Admiral and east Alki; it had been posted in July, and the cleanup crew left a big stack of bags Wednesday afternoon:

The city’s approach to smaller campsites continues to follow what was outlined here three years ago, according to Pickus.

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Update: Visiting/revisiting sites new and old as ‘Nickelsville’ moves http://westseattleblog.com/2013/09/nickelsville-moving-day/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/09/nickelsville-moving-day/#comments Sun, 01 Sep 2013 18:56:47 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=162552 (UPDATED 9:04 PM with photos from our early-evening return visits to the four sites – scroll down)

11:56 AM: This is the date set by the City Council in June for closure of the West Seattle site that for more than two years has been home to the encampment that calls itself “Nickelsville.” As we’ve reported in ongoing coverage, the encampment announced it has three new sites. We’re checking in on the move as today proceeds, starting with a look at those three sites (mapped here) so we have “before and after” photos. At 11 am, an hour into the announced schedule for “moving day,” we stopped at 2020 S. Jackson:

Porta-potties were in view, as were “no parking” signs for today only. The only person in view was someone getting ready to do some weed-whacking. The site is owned by the Low-Income Housing Institute, per county records; it owns Ernestine Anderson Place next door, described as “60 units for homeless and low-income seniors.” From there, we headed north to the 1419 22nd Ave. site, photographed at 11:07 am, no one there yet:

That site is owned by the adjacent-to-the-south Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd. From there, via I-5, we got to the Skyway site at 11:25. It’s at 12914 Martin Luther King Jr. Way S., a busy freeway-like stretch between I-5 and Renton, which according to property records used to hold a tavern and motel; its ownership is listed as an LLC held by Pete Sikov, who gained fame in 2005 as owner of Jimi Hendrix‘s boyhood home. Photo shortly added:

It’s the largest site but also, as had been noted on the Nickelsville Works Facebook page, choked with overgrowth. No one on site as of 11:35 am, but two porta-potties are in view, as with the other two sites. Next, what’s happening at the West Seattle site right now; arriving in the area, we found ourselves behind a van containing the Nickelsville goats, whom we’re told are headed to munch on the Skyway overgrowth.

12:51 PM: The photo above is our overview from right about noon. Lots of work in view:

And belongings gathered up:

The view further into the camp:

We’ll revisit the sites late in the day for updates.

2:55 PM UPDATE: In our update last Thursday, we showed the encampment flyer that included a schedule for cleaning up the site over the next three days. Highland Park Action Committee co-chair Carolyn Stauffer says the city has sanctioned that: “I just heard from Jerry DeGrieck / Mayor’s office- with an update: They are going to allow access to the current Nickelsville site through Wednesday for time to move, clear and clean up the site; there will be added security at the site through that time, and a fence will go up on Thursday.”

8:55 PM UPDATE: As planned, we revisited the sites past and present early this evening, in the 6 pm hour. If you’re reading this from the home page, click ahead to see; otherwise, just keep scrolling:

On 22nd, north of the hosting church, not much had changed, except for the addition of stacks of pallets:

In Skyway, those we found included – in the foreground – the Nickelsville goats.

And at the site on Jackson, an intake shack was set up:

At this site, we received a copy of a letter addressed to neighbors, by the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, which is leasing the site from the Low-Income Housing Institute, developers of the building next door. The church itself is about half a mile east, at 2801 S. Jackson. The letter read in part:

… Our church will lease a vacant lot owned by the nonprofit Low Income Housing Institute at 2020 S. Jackson Street to provide a place for the community to access supportive services and for us to provide shelter for approximately 35 men, women, and children from Nickelsville.

We will help homeless veterans, families with children, and single people. They will be living in tents on platforms and in simple well-built wood structures. There are not enough shelters and affordable housing in Seattle. …

The church will offer a variety of services at 2020 S. Jackson for the community to access including information and referral, counseling and outreach, food, clothing, children’s school supplies, and other services. There will be strict rules for the campers and 24/7 security at the site. There is a fence surrounding the property. Staff at the Church can share a copy of the encampment rules. We expect that Nickelsville will stay for one year. …

One tent was up.

Our last stop was the West Seattle site, where Nickelsville began five years ago (here’s our first report from September 22, 2008). The dismantling continued:

Yet more pallets, cinder blocks, and other material remained to be transported:

The camp recruited drivers to give rides to the new sites; after we left from the south (parking lot) entrance area, we drove back around the north side and noticed cars heading out. According to this Facebook post, they’re also looking for rides to get back to the West Marginal Way site tomorrow morning to keep working on the breakdown and moveout.

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‘Nickelsville’ closure countdown: New sites; pet-moving plan http://westseattleblog.com/2013/08/nickelsville-closure-countdown-new-sites-pet-moving-plan/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/08/nickelsville-closure-countdown-new-sites-pet-moving-plan/#comments Sat, 31 Aug 2013 05:28:48 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=162440 (UPDATED SATURDAY MORNING with addresses of all three new sites, and the map below)


View Nickelsville sites, present and future in a larger map

With the deadline for vacating the “Nickelsville” encampment site in West Seattle coming up Sunday, plans to move to 3 new sites, as first announced two nights ago, are intensifying.

The two additional new sites were disclosed this afternoon, we’re told, but we have not found the addresses publicly posted. One TV report tonight says that in addition to the previously reported 20th/Jackson site in the Central District, there’s a second site in the Central District, and the third is in Skyway.

(SATURDAY MORNING UPDATE: The sites, with photos, are now posted/listed on the Nickelsville Works Facebook page.

*12914 Martin Luther King Jr. Way S., Skyway.
*Behind Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, 1419 22nd Ave.
*The first site announced, 2020 South Jackson St.
)

As noted here last night, there are public requests for help with the move on Sunday. The newest one involves the encampment’s pets. Teri Ensley with West Seattle-based Furry Faces Foundation is helping organize the efforts and tells WSB:

We have a solid, collective plan in place for the safekeeping of the pets during the move and transportation of them to the new sites with their people.

The Nickelsville Pet Coordinator has contacted us with the following requests for pets to help the move go more smoothly and safely for the animals:

1) Clean Cat Crates, in good working order.
2) Freshly washed used towels (for use in the crates)
3) Leashes
4) Collars – both cat and dog (especially cat collars/harnesses)

Items may be dropped:

· On the front porch of my house, located at 3809 46th Ave SW
· At Pet Elements, located in Morgan Junction
· At the Nickelsville Security Desk (7116 W. Marginal Way SW)

Ideally, we need items by Saturday, however, are happy to accept them any time.

This is all to facilitate keeping cats crated and dogs leashed at the soon-to-be-former site on moving day Sunday, where the pets will be watched throughout a day filled with “a lot of commotion,” as Ensley puts it. “In the evening, when the move is complete and tents/housing structures set up at the new sites, the animal companions will be transported to their new location.”

To facilitate that, each cat crate or dog leash will have a form with the owner’s name/contact info, pet’s name, and the site that pet/human will be moving to. F3 has been working on pet tagging lately and
“is also hoping to engrave new pet id tags for each of the animals which includes any new contact info,” according to Ensley.

She adds that Seattle Animal Shelter “has been very supportive with ideas and suggestions,” will accept any pets that have to be surrendered, and has spayed/neutered more than 40 Nickelsville pets.

Previous WSB coverage of Nickelsville is archived here, newest to oldest.

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‘Nickelsville’ closure countdown: Moving & cleanup schedule; Food Lifeline update http://westseattleblog.com/2013/08/nickelsville-closure-countdown-moving-schedule-food-lifeline-update/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/08/nickelsville-closure-countdown-moving-schedule-food-lifeline-update/#comments Fri, 30 Aug 2013 05:37:36 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=162343

Again tonight, members of the Westside Interfaith Network kept a roadside vigil just outside the encampment that calls itself “Nickelsville,” which by all indications is now gearing up for a moving day Sunday, city officials’ declared deadline for closing the site, rather than for a standoff.

As reported here last night, the encampment says it has secured three sites, and plans to announce the second and third locations tomorrow; the first one announced is at 20th and Jackson in the Central District.

The newest update on the encampment’s official Facebook page “Nickelsville Works includes the flyer below with a schedule for moving, and for cleaning up the current site, once it’s vacated:

Closing and clearing the site would be a step toward enabling its sale to Food Lifeline, which wants to build a new headquarters for its work fighting hunger in the region. But it’s not the only site FL is examining, according to development director Amy Lee Derenthal: “We have a couple other sites we’re looking at and doing our due diligence to make sure we make the best decision as to where we’ll build our Hunger Solution Center. The West Marginal Way site has been our preferred site and once we finish our due diligence process, we’ll let the community at large know of our plans. … Food Lifeline has been working with Low Income Housing representatives, the Church Council and the residents of Nickelsville for the last 15 months to help them find a more suitable location. The current site does not have very good transit options and it floods in the winter months. We help provide food to the Nickelsville community through one of our agencies, Operation Sack Lunch, and will continue to do so when they do eventually move.” It’s been almost 11 months since FL’s interest in the West Seattle site surfaced.

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‘Nickelsville’ closure countdown: Three sites found, camp says http://westseattleblog.com/2013/08/nickelsville-closure-countdown-three-sites-found-camp-says/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/08/nickelsville-closure-countdown-three-sites-found-camp-says/#comments Thu, 29 Aug 2013 04:18:25 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=162244 Eviction won’t be necessary – ‘Nickelsville’ says it has secured three sites so that everyone can move. That’s according to an announcement minutes ago on the encampment’s official Facebook page:

Great news! Nickelsville has secured two more sites and will be moving this Sunday. We’re notifying the neighbors before announcing the two additional sites on Friday afternoon. There are many ways you can help with the move, either by helping us pack up the trucks, donating money to pay for our bills at this site, or donating materials such as 33 gallon trash bags, duct tape, basic tools such as hammers, or bringing food and water on moving day.

The one site that already has been announced is in the Central District, at 20th and Jackson. Also posted on the Nickelsville Works page, a photo of a flyer with packing/moving instructions for camp residents. More to come.

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‘Nickelsville’ closure countdown continues: WIN vigil, night 2; HPAC awaits action http://westseattleblog.com/2013/08/nickelsville-closure-countdown-continues-win-vigil-night-2-hpac-awaits-action/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/08/nickelsville-closure-countdown-continues-win-vigil-night-2-hpac-awaits-action/#comments Tue, 27 Aug 2013 06:47:15 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=162114

(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.

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Happening now: First Westside Interfaith Network vigil outside ‘Nickelsville’ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/08/happening-now-first-westside-interfaith-network-vigil-outside-nickelsville/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/08/happening-now-first-westside-interfaith-network-vigil-outside-nickelsville/#comments Mon, 26 Aug 2013 03:21:45 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=162046

That sign quoting former Vice President Hubert Humphrey was held by the youngest of just over a dozen people standing in a patch of dead grass on the roadside outside the main entrance to “Nickelsville” this past hour. It was also the only sign in evidence – Mary Anne deVry from the Westside Interfaith Network, the coalition of area churches/faith groups starting a week of vigils there, said they will probably bring one or more tomorrow. For now, they are waving flashlights:

That’s to underscore their intent – to “shine a light” on homelessness in Seattle. WIN announced Friday that they would hold a vigil each night through next Saturday, 6-10 pm. Next Sunday is September 1st – the date that Seattle elected officials have decreed as closure day for the camp, proclaimed on signs installed by its entrance:

Some of the half-million dollars the City Council approved for getting people out of the camp and into housing has so far placed 47 people, according to Union Gospel Mission, the organization tabbed by the city to work on relocating “campers” – but, as a UGM manager acknowledged in an interview with WSB on Friday, that hasn’t reduced the population. It’s estimated at least 125 people are there now, up from fewer than 100 when the relocation effort began. The Nickelsville Central Committee has said publicly that it hopes to move to three sites, only one of which – in the Central District – has been formally announced. But it was evident tonight that housekeeping/cleanup is under way:

The wood that was being carried out and stacked in the parking area had been lining pathways but is no longer needed, we were told. Meantime, deVry told us that the local church representatives had served a meal at the camp tonight, before walking over to the roadside for the casual vigil. They’ll be back tomorrow, same time, 6-10 pm, and anyone interested in calling attention to homelessness – whether you support “Nickelsville” or not – is welcome.

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‘Nickelsville’ deadline countdown: How Union Gospel Mission has been working to relocate campers http://westseattleblog.com/2013/08/nickelsville-deadline-countdown-how-union-gospel-mission-has-been-working-to-relocate-campers/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/08/nickelsville-deadline-countdown-how-union-gospel-mission-has-been-working-to-relocate-campers/#comments Sun, 25 Aug 2013 03:41:29 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=161971 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Two months gone since the vote, eight days to go, until the deadline city leaders set for closing the West Seattle site to which the encampment that calls itself “Nickelsville” returned two years ago.

On Friday, we reported on the Westside Interfaith Network‘s plan to hold nightly vigils for a week, from tomorrow through next Saturday (August 31st) – not to demand that the encampment be allowed to stay open, but simply, WIN’s Mary Anne deVry says, to remind the greater community that homelessness remains an unsolved problem.

After publishing that story, we talked with Terry Pallas from Union Gospel Mission, which has an agreement with the city to find housing and services for Nickelsville “campers” with the money (up to $500,000) that City Councilmembers voted in June to spend.

How is it being spent?

As we noted in an update to yesterday’s story, first thing Pallas wanted us to know was the updated number for how many people they had relocated. As of Friday – 47, he said, eight through “travelers’ aid,” which means they were moving to another town or state to move in with family members, and Pallas said, “We’ve been able to verify that through case management.” Among them, he says – a couple and their 11-year-old son who have just moved back to Texas to be with family.

The other 39 people have moved to transitional apartments or gone into facilities to get assistance with addiction recovery or domestic-violence safe housing, according to Pallas. They have leased 20 apartments in private buildings, he says, with UGM signing corporate leases and guaranteeing the rent for up to a year via the city funding, and the residents have case managers: “The goal is, we’re trying to qualify folks to sign onto a lease of their own within a year.” The apartments are fully furnished, with donations to UGM comprising much if not all of the furnishings. And as the residents start getting on their feet, it’s hoped they’ll be paying “some program fees on a sliding scale,” says Pallas, and that will all go back into the fund that started with the city’s half-million dollars: “We’re trying to make that stretch as far as possible.”

The relationship between Nickelsville itself and the UGM is not formal, and camp residents are not required to check it out. So, we asked, given that, how does it work?

Pallas says a “case-management team of three full-time Union Gospel Mission employees (is) specifically assigned to Nickelsville” and works from a tent set up at the encampment, doing assessments. Those assessments, he says, include determination of “what major obstacles in their life – mental health, addiction, legal barriers – have kept them from qualifying for housing.” He notes that there’s “been a lot of legal need down there,” and so they’ve brought in the UGM legal team, another resource the organization has added to try to make this work. Overall, they are following “the same model (in which) we do a lot of things – ‘doing it with, instead of doing it to’ – we sit down side by side and figure out how we can (work) together.”

So far, he adds, they have met with 26 people who “self-identify that they are in active addiction -heroin, crack, meth.”

And yet, with 47 “relocations,” the population of Nickelsville is larger than it was when UGM was brought in. Maybe 80, 90 people then, 125-150 now, Pallas says. “Every time our case-management team moves somebody else out, there’s somebody else there that takes their place.” He says it was a flaw from the start – “without closing the front door, it’s impossible to reduce the number.”

So is there some way this could have worked better?

First, he stresses that relocating 47 people is “significant.” And “while … we haven’t been able to get everybody into a housing option, I think it has proved to be a good model – we have been able to house families, we have been able to house same-sex (couples), married, non-married (people), all across the board, we have been able to serve a lot of the demographic that’s in Nickelsville. … Two months is a very short amount of time for that many folks (to be relocated), so we feel like the 47 that have been served and moved on is a great success and it’s just the beginning – we feel the model itself is working well.”

But time – at least, time on the clock started by elected officials in June – is running out. As noted in our Friday story, the mayor’s office won’t speculate on what’ll happen September 1st, one week from tomorrow, if Nickelsville hasn’t emptied, either by a sudden wave of relocations or by finding new sites. The encampment’s Central Committee said yesterday via Facebook that the latter is a likelihood:

… We are working hard to get ready to move on the first of September.

We will be moving to three sites, two of which are ready to go. If a third site doesn’t come through we will have to stand our ground at Nickelsville. Please remember that we could really use your help, both in moving or simply standing in support. …

More to come in our Sunday report. Our prior coverage of the encampment – dating all the way back to its founding at the same West Seattle site five years ago – is archived here, newest-to-oldest.

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‘Nickelsville’ closure countdown: Local faith group plans vigils http://westseattleblog.com/2013/08/nickelsville-closure-countdown-local-faith-group-plans-vigils/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/08/nickelsville-closure-countdown-local-faith-group-plans-vigils/#comments Fri, 23 Aug 2013 19:14:15 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=161867 (UPDATED 3:34 pm with new information from Union Gospel Mission – scroll to end)

Nine days remain until the September 1st date by which city leaders committed to closing the encampment that calls itself “Nickelsville,” on mostly city-owned land at West Marginal Way and Highland Park Way. By multiple accounts – including the one you’ll see below – the number of people there has increased instead of decreased. What will happen when September 1st arrives, remains to be seen. First: We asked for comment from the mayor, whose spokesperson Aaron Pickus replies:

I’m not going to speculate on what will happen on September 1st. What I can say is that our focus is to find shelter for those currently living at the site.

In June, when 7 councilmembers called for the closure, the mayor replied that he would “follow the City Council’s direction to evict those who remain” if the site isn’t vacant on September 1st.

The City Council, which called for the closure, is on its summer break right now, so no official discussions are scheduled on their part. But the latest acknowledgment that the closure date is approaching comes from the Westside Interfaith Network, a coalition of local churches and faith-based groups that has long coalesced around the issue of homelessness. We covered its forum on the issue in mid-June. WIN’s Mary Anne deVry says the group plans nightly vigils at Nickelsville starting this Sunday – NOT to demand that it stay open, but to show their concern about the unsolved problem of homelessness. She writes:

Westside Inferfaith Network (WIN) met this week and decided to hold a vigil at Nickelsville’s parking lot each evening next week (Sun. 8/25 thru Sat. 8/31). This idea arose as we were discussing the growing crisis of homeless people. Our idea is based on these facts:

-Nickelsville is closing (September 1st) & there are still ~150 residents with no confirmed place to move,

-There’s a steady increase of homeless people (recently 9 families asked shelter at N’ville in a 13 day period–& many couples/singles keep coming–none of them were looking for “freebies!)

-2-1-1 reports shelters are full (most people coming to N’ville are told to do so by 2-1-1),

-it’s not safe to live in the greenbelt or city streets.

-We also know literally tens of thousands of people in our area struggle on the brink of homelessness. There will be future homeless people.

We care deeply about the plight of each of these people. At our WIN meeting the flow of comments basically was “what can we do to help all these people…what can we do to show we care…what can we do to enlighten our community about this situation.” The idea that arose was to have a silent witness of love and caring at Nickelsville’s parking lot–for the people there AND for all the struggling people in our community.

Westside Interfaith Network (WIN) church group invites anyone who cares about homeless kids/elderly/or adults to stand with a flashlight at Nickelsville’s parking lot any time 6-10 PM each evening from Sun. 8/25 to Sat. 8/31. As people of faith, we help bring God’s light into our world; and we shed light on the plight of the 10,000′s who are homeless–or on the brink of homelessness–in our area. Where will the current–and future–homeless go after 9/1? Shelters are full; greenbelts are not safe. In the past 13 days, 9 newly-homeless families arrived at N’ville! This is simply our churches/community saying, “we care about our neighbors in need.” Come to SE corner of W.Marginal Wy & SW Highland Pk with a flashlight, park on edge of road, join others and “let your little light shine.”

The hope is that: people will come once/twice/or thrice, and that everyone will pass this information on to friends/family/or foes. Since there is limited parking space near the camp, suggest people car-pool or realize they may have to walk a wee bit. Some have said they’re bringing a camp chair.

Mary Anne added that Nickelsville is mourning Daniel Campbell, a resident who died of lymphoma at the camp last Saturday, and will have a Service of Remembrance at 7 pm Saturday (update – at a TBA date).

Back to the site’s future – Union Gospel Mission is the organization that is working at city direction to find housing and other services for those at Nickelsville. According to a story in The Stranger, UGM’s “most recent report” says they have moved at least 24 people from the camp.

3:34 PM UPDATE: Just talked with Terry Pallas from UGM. He says that “most recent report” actually was from almost a month ago, and they have now almost doubled the number to 47 people. Eight have accepted “travelers’ aid” and are on their way to other places to relocate with family/friends; the other 39 have housing in this area, including, he says, 20 leased transitional apartments, guaranteed for a year. We will write a separate story with full details of our conversation and how their part of this is going, but wanted to update the number. He acknowledges that since there is no mandate for campers to accept UGM help, nor any mandate for Nickelsville to “close the door,” that the camp still has an estimated 125 or more people.

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Union Gospel Mission says it’s working with city on Nickelsville contract http://westseattleblog.com/2013/06/union-gospel-mission-says-its-working-with-the-city-on-nickelsville-contract/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/06/union-gospel-mission-says-its-working-with-the-city-on-nickelsville-contract/#comments Fri, 28 Jun 2013 18:32:32 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=156321 Been wondering who would get the money approved by the City Council this week to help move out Nickelsville residents so the encampment can be closed by September 1st? Union Gospel Mission just announced they’re working with the city:

Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission (“the Mission”) is developing a contract with the City of Seattle’s (“the City”) Human Services Department to help Nickelsville residents transition to permanent housing and get back on their feet. This comes as a result of the $500,000 appropriated by the City this week to assist the residents of Nickelsville to secure housing, shelter and services over the next several months.

“The Mission looks forward to walking beside the 160 individuals and families who desire a pathway out of homelessness. Mission staff will develop relationships with individuals and families wanting assistance, assessing their needs, finding appropriate housing options, and meeting with them on a weekly basis for up to a year with the goal of each person becoming fully self-reliant,” said Jeff Lilley, the Mission’s president.

The Mission will offer:

1. Relocation assistance to permanent housing for all Nickelsville residents – though all are free to seek their own alternatives.

2. Assisted and case-managed housing, up to one year – with the goal to have residents fully self-reliant at the end of that year.

3. Case management to help residents develop self-sustainable skills, utilizing existing resources as needed, including the Mission’s legal services, dental clinic, community job sources, etc.

4. Evaluation and referral services to those residents requesting entrance into recovery programs – guaranteeing a treatment bed in the Mission’s programs if they so choose (or a referral to other program).

5. Emergency shelter beds at Mission facilities during this transition period as needed.

“The Mission will not manage Nickelsville during this time, just assist in the relocation process. The project has many challenges as well as opportunities, and the Mission, with funding from the City, will begin work right away, ” said Lilley.

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Local coalition goes face-to-face with councilmembers on ‘Nickelsville’ and other homelessness issues http://westseattleblog.com/2013/06/local-coalition-goes-face-to-face-with-councilmembers-on-nickelsville-and-other-homelessness-issues/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/06/local-coalition-goes-face-to-face-with-councilmembers-on-nickelsville-and-other-homelessness-issues/#comments Tue, 18 Jun 2013 18:45:15 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=155128

(Photos by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
The two City Council members who did not sign last week’s letter calling for the Nickelsville encampment’s closure by September 1st were among three councilmembers who came to West Seattle last night for a forum on homelessness.

Their divergent positions on the matter were evident when all three – Nick Licata and Mike O’Brien, who weren’t part of the letter, and Tom Rasmussen, who was – responded to an audience question asking about “the plan” for the shutdown. We have that part of the discussion on video:

Ahead, the rest of what was discussed – what’s the city doing regarding homelessness in general, and what community members can do to help:

The forum was organized by the Westside Interfaith Network, a new name for a not-so-new coalition of West Seattle/White Center-area faith-based organizations. They say they invited the mayor and all nine councilmembers; the aforementioned three showed up, plus a representative for Councilmember Sally Bagshaw who sat on the panel but did not speak.

Many have been working to help homeless people and others in need – including people at the encampment – in their own quiet ways.

The goal of the event, moderated by White Center Food Bank executive director Rick Jump, was to try to find out from the councilmembers what the city is doing toward its stated goal of ending homelessness, and what community members/organizations can do to be most effective in helping.

“May we never lose sight of what really matters in life,” was part of the invocation delivered as the forum began with about 50 people on hand at Our Lady of Guadalupe‘s Pastoral Life Center.

A representative of Alki UCC was the first to ask a question. “You’ve kind of been in the hot seat lately,” she observed, “with the very complicated and challenging issue of disbanding Nickelsville,” she said to the councilmembers, going on to observe that “homelessness is increasing, it’s not going away. … We feel that the rise of homelessness, especially family homelessness, is a disgrace.” She read from a statement saying that she believes our area has the resources but apparently not the will. “Housing ends homelessness,” she said, wondering if every housing development could be asked to include a certain percentage of affordable housing. “If they wish to come into our city and make megaprofits off our resources, then they need to pay their way,” she went on, suggesting other cities required developers to do so, while ours does not. “What does it take” to do this? she asked the councilmembers.

First to answer, Councilmember Licata: “What it takes is political will, simple as that.” He also noted that the “public has shown the will to tax itself to build affordable housing …but the private sector has not stepped up to the plate.” He singled out South Lake Union, saying only 450 of 5,000 needed affordable-housing units are to be required. “… My goal this year is to get legislation passed that says 10 percent of new construction should have affordable housing in it.” Right now, he said, it’s less than five percent, but “… it’s something we need your help with.”

Next, Councilmember Rasmussen suggested “incentive zoning” regarding allowing developers to build higher. “(But) I do want you to know that the City of Seattle is doing a tremendous amount (to help with homelessness) … $30 million … no other city provides as much as we do.” But, he said, the city has other responsibilities too. He went on to say that people come here because of the programs offered – but there’s a limit, so “they end up being disappointed … so I think it’s important for our city and our state to do more for the people in our community who need help.” He spoke of talking with people he finds on the streets and asking what communities they came from, finding a way to see how they can be helped without leaving their communities of origin. While in San Diego recently, he said, he learned Seattle has “a reputation” as “Free-attle” because of the services that are available.

Councilmember O’Brien said that he understands the state constitution places some limits “on what we can do.” The council is now convening “national experts,” in the wake of “what happened in Lake Union,” to find out more about what can be done in the future, “what can developers afford.” He says “a lot of information, looking forward” will come out in the next six to nine months. “My hope is that by the end of this year through this process we’ll have a clear picture on what we need to perceive from a perspective of affordability …” as well as sustainability, and a clear picture on what tools are needed.

A representative of Calvary Lutheran Church was next with a question, asking about the countywide 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness – “how do you evaluate (the plan’s) effectiveness” right now? Where has progress been made? What impedes progress? What part can faith-based groups play?

Licata again brought up the issue of people being drawn here – not just in hopes of a “free ride,” but also in “desperate hope they’ll get a job … So they show up sometimes unrealistically and end up not getting a job, or getting a job and getting laid off .. so what can we do?” He takes that to the issue of housing, and needing “to get people off the streets at night.” So, he said, the Committee to End Homelessness has added that mission – trying to get those people “into shelter and move them as quickly as possible into permanent housing.”

Rasmussen: “Is there a limit to the number of people that we can help? If there are 2,000 people on the street every night, are we responsible (for all of them)?” He says that’s a question those who are concerned need to think about, and if so, how do we pay for it? Where do they live, where do they stay? “In community centers? Churches? Parks? (Tent cities)? Because that’s what we are wrestling with.”

O’Brien: He said “it’s hard to fault” those who come here because there’s a glimmer of hope for a job. “And if we decide we don’t have responsibility for that person – well, they’re still here. … The reality is, we live in a country, in a city, where people move in and out within borders. … At the end of the day, we have an ultimate responsibility for the people who are in our city … Everyone should have a solid roof over their head and not .. something they get kicked out at the end of the day.” But, he said, with all the various types of housing and shelter (including “Nickelsville”), “the demand exceeds the supply.” He also mentions the pilot program for safe parking for people who are sleeping in their cars, currently offering a handful. He says they need more parking lots, “because we’re going to go citywide.”

The next questioner, from OLG, asked about funding sources. O’Brien said the city has “done a good job” maintaining its Human Services budget through the recession, but “at the same time, when you look at the cuts from the federal and state level,” the end user is seeing that the services have been cut, and they don’t care if the city’s doing their part but others have not, if they are losing services. He says the city also keeps asking for permission to raise revenue, if the state will not give money – but “if those fail, how do we get creative in finding new revenue streams?” He said, “It’s a struggle .. there’s no easy answer.”

Councilmember Rasmussen picked up on that, noting that legislators are hearing from the city, but asked the church members on hand to talk to their counterparts at churches around the state, and ask them to make their voices heard too.

Next, a Peace Lutheran Church rep suggested that it’s less costly to prevent homelessness than to fix it. She mentioned the high poverty level of students at West Seattle and Roxhill Elementaries, and how many hundreds of families in our community are close to homelessness, if not there now.

Licata pointed out that the last housing levy set aside $4 million for rental assistance – one of the things that was asked about, regarding preventing evictions. He said the council increased its support for food banks by $200,000 in each of the past two years. “There’s a combination of how you use public funds and what you do with the private sector …”

The Nickelsville discussion (see above) ensued. After that, a question focused on transportation issues for those in need – the bus tickets and other help?

Rasmussen wonders where the money will come from. “I encourage you to contact your county councilperson and legislators. … ” and then he offered to be the contact person. O’Brien noted he’d heard a “technical question” about how bus passes are delivered, and said, “we need to be really thoughtful about how we deliver (them).”

The issue of eviction prevention – and foreclosure-related evictions – resurfaced.

42,000 homes in the city are under water, noted Licata. He said he is working with specialists and people from other cities about “possibly using a tool every city has – eminent domain – to buy down the principals. Until you reduce the principals of the loan, you’re just getting deeper and deeper … ”

Rasmussen says it’s frustrating there’s not more help with that issue, particularly for people whose problems are linked to issues including mental health, domestic violence, addiction, and more. He told a story about someone who was booted from his home because of his sexual orientation, but got help, got education, and got on his feet.

Brian Callanan, the West Seattle-residing journalist/broadcaster from the Seattle Channel, a fixture at many OLG events, asked some of the questions in the later going, from slips of paper on which attendees had written them. That included one about the city purchasing unneeded buildings to house homeless people. Licata mentioned it’s been done, though not enough for that to be “the” homeless solution.

An audience member said that while he’s impressed with the answers he heard tonight, he’s less impressed with the council’s history of action or non-action. And he said he’s sorry that Nickelsville will be disbanded because of its sense of community.

Next from the audience, a longtime volunteer/donor who has helped at Nickelsville exhorted the councilmembers to look at the people in the room who have helped too: “I want to hear from you … how are you going to use US … as a point of service so that we can help those who are less fortunate to us?”

Licata’s reply: “Two ways – the (safe parking) program,” which currently has three churches with 10 spots and is now looking to have 10 churches with 50 spots by next year – “if you can get your community to agree to host them, we have a system set up” to make that happen. Second, he said, “I’ve been meeting a lot with the people from Nickelsville to figure out what the next step is – they’re in agreement they may not find a single spot to put them all in … they are willing to break into smaller communities if your church has land, or private owners who’d want to lease land to a church, legislation in my committee now is talking about 5,000 square feet … you have a network that we do not have; you have members who are compassionate and passionate, and you have physical facilities that might be able to be used to help with the transition for people who are in the encampment.”

Rasmussen reiterated that churches can host campers, and he suggested they work with churches in other communities to make sure they are providing services and help in their communities – “why should a family have to move across the county or across the state to find a place to live, shouldn’t they be able to find help in their own communities?”

O’Brien said, “Those of you who have been working with Nickelsville, I want to thank you for that work … you never know who that one person is who maks that one little connection that provides that hope to get that person into a stable living situation where they can support themselves … Yes, we need (institutional solutions), but at the end of the day, we need (volunteers) too.” He reiterated a request for hosting cars or offering land to host an encampment, or to get a private landowner to lease land to a church so that it could become church property and host an encampment. He said he believes there will be encampment(s), whether called Nickelsville or not, after September 1st.

WHAT’S NEXT: The individual organizations involved in the Westside Interfaith Network continue their work and periodic meetings – next time one is announced, we’ll get it in the calendar.

Regarding the “Nickelsville” issue: On June 25th, there’s a formal public hearing on Licata’s encampment-related ordinance, which seeks to make more sites around the city potentially usable as hosts. Here’s the official notice with details. On Monday, July 8th, as reported here last week, the full council will consider the ordinance created from the seven councilmembers’ direction last week to get “Nickelsville” residents housing and services so the camp can be closed by September 1st.

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New ‘Nickelsville’ ordinance: Declares ‘public health and safety risk,’ would spend $500,000 to help ‘campers’ before closing http://westseattleblog.com/2013/06/new-nickelsville-ordinance-500000-to-help-the-campers-before-closing/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/06/new-nickelsville-ordinance-500000-to-help-the-campers-before-closing/#comments Fri, 14 Jun 2013 21:11:03 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=154830 Seven City Councilmembers‘ letter proposing closing the encampment that calls itself “Nickelsville” is now followed up with a proposed ordinance to be introduced next Monday. It declares the situation an “emergency” for reasons including:

The City Council finds that the encampment located at 7116 W Marginal Way SW has created a public health and safety risk due to ongoing and potential public health and safety issues, as indicated by (1) numerous 9-1-1 calls and police investigations of criminal activities, and (2) a Phase I Environmental Assessment that addresses potential environmental contamination of the property. As such, the City Council finds that this act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety and believes that the City should act immediately to move the campers off of the site and into appropriate shelter, housing and services.

If passed, the ordinance would appropriate half a million dollars for “a non-profit organization to provide outreach, engagement, case management, shelter, housing and other services to the campers at 7116 W Marginal Way SW” in order to move them out and close the camp by September 1st. We’re checking now on how that organization will be chosen and when.

2:23 PM UPDATE: City Council communicator Dan Nolte says this is scheduled for a vote during the full council’s 2 pm meeting July 8th.

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