“Nickelsville” update: Friday morning eviction expected


We went tonight to the West Seattle homeless camp calling itself “Nickelsville” (previous WSB coverage here, here, and here) to see what would be discussed at a strategy meeting of sorts, to which they had invited their “community supporters.” Among those at the camp, Bill Kirlin-Hackett, director of the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness — who said the mayor told him twice today that the squatters would be booted off the Highland Park Way/West Marginal Way site sometime Friday morning; they were put on 72-hour notice at 5 pm Monday, so technically it could happen any time after that. “Nickelsville” organizers and campers, meantime, say they’ll resist, and plan to start building “permanent” shanty-type structures tomorrow afternoon. ADDED 9:59 PM: More from tonight’s meeting, including another photo, a video clip, and who organizers say is going to lobby the mayor on their behalf:

The agenda for tonight’s meeting turned up on a cardboard sign:


Rather than a blustery soundbite, we thought the most interesting video clip was a quick once-around-the-circle at the start of the meeting – these are advocates for the homeless as well as some of the 86 people that organizers say are staying in “Nickelsville” now:

One organizer says City Councilmember Nick Licata will try to talk to the mayor tomorrow to ask for a “cooling-off period.” But in the meantime, unless there is word of something like that, they are girding to resist being evicted, whenever it happens, and say they are hoping to have up to 150 people in the camp by Friday, because they feel a show of strength could force the city to back off. They also talked tonight about documents they’ve posted on the “Nickelsville” website, including the “letter to the mayor” they say explains why they set up the camp, and a “letter to supporters.” On the city website, meantime, there is currently no official mayoral statement about the situation. He does have a page about his “10-year plan to end homelessness.”

23 Replies to ""Nickelsville" update: Friday morning eviction expected"

  • GC September 24, 2008 (11:30 pm)

    One hopes that early Friday morning that the Nickelsville folks decamp, and re-appear at around 3am Saturday Morning. And repeat as needed to beat the whole 72-hr thing…

  • Kayleigh September 25, 2008 (5:24 am)

    Yes, evicting them will certainly solve the problem: now, magically, we will have affordable housing and services to help them.
    Government by wishful thinking.

  • Scott B. September 25, 2008 (5:57 am)


    Let one of them sleep on your couch.

  • justme September 25, 2008 (7:03 am)

    First, I must thank the WSB for the great coverage on this subject. My heart goes out to the people living in this shelter and anyone living without the comforts most of us have. Especially as the weather changes and freezing temps are just around the corner. I was torn at first when I started to read about the camp. There’s a big difference between this kind of organized living arrangement and the messy, random camps like the one at Camp Long. The only way to channge our homeless crisis is for them to band together, in a clean and organized way, and make their needs aware to our communities. Also, by making available a list of needs people can donate like the one that was posted in a previous write up. I’m headed there today with donations. Anyone else?

  • Kayleigh September 25, 2008 (7:51 am)

    Scott, I work in the field. I comprehend that the problem is far bigger than my couch. Do you?

  • Jim September 25, 2008 (8:04 am)

    I think the “Agenda” written on the cardboard was telling. “Goal: Keep Nickelsville Open.”

    Is this the most we can hope for – the “right” to continue living in a substandard, anti-social, parasitic state? Is there no goal more compelling than squatting on public land? I have a hard time believing that there is helplessness here when there is this kind of organized effort.

    I’m not coming down on the homeless for being homeless. I’m coming down on everyone who wants to exert energy toward perpetuating their plight and can think of no loftier goal for a person than that they might be able to live a FULLY unproductive life.

  • TC September 25, 2008 (9:18 am)

    Hi Jim,
    Who says they are living unproductive lives? A twist of fate and it could be you and your family on the street. Your hardness of heart reflects the fact that you are afraid to acknowledge this. It could be any of us.
    Development has driven many folks onto the street.
    Housing /rental prices have been off the charts. Now we are seeing the fallout in the current financial crisis.

  • Go ahead, start screaming at me because I have an opinion September 25, 2008 (9:59 am)

    And these people have not a single person, family or friend, that can assist with a place to sleep while they “get back on their feet”? Or is it becuase a lot of them are sick (mentally) or drunks who have driven their family and friends away because they are lazy.

    If I came about a ‘twist of fate’ I would have a lot of options, I guess that makes me lucky, or a good friend, daughter, mother, co-worker, etc.

    Should it not be temporary anyway? As a lot of you people are saying, they are working individuals who simply can not affort a home right now.

    Honestly I dont even notice them there and live very close to it driving by every day so what is the big deal? An american flag and the wood sign along with a few folks sitting at the entrance is all I see.

    I hope that the tents can stay, but I dont know about permanent “shanty’s”.

  • GC September 25, 2008 (10:10 am)

    First, it appears this group is getting special and unwelcome attention because they had the temerity to invoke the Nickels name.

    Second, they have to go someplace, and it’s not as if there’s a surplus of homeless housing. As long as they keep it sanitary and crime free, I’ve no strong objections to Nickelsville in an area relatively remote from the general population.

    Third, simply flustering the unfortunate arrogant and elitist blowhard we are saddled with as a Mayor is a worthwhile goal, in and of itself.

  • margaritaville September 25, 2008 (11:08 am)

    Are they hurting anyone except the egos of local politicians by being there?

  • Tracy September 25, 2008 (11:15 am)

    Is it right that they take over land? Is that something that should be encouraged? I am all for helping people “get back on their feet” by providing services but this is not help in my opinion. This is encouraging their homeless status quo.

  • Westwood Resident September 25, 2008 (11:39 am)

    My thoughts on “Homeless Camps” are well known through the incident at Camp Long, but I think this is just what is needed (the camp, not the removal).
    This is a piece of land that NO ONE uses. It is on city property.
    If Nickles was smart (HA!!!!) he would work with the organizers of “Nicklesville” to bring in some “Honey Buckets” and a few dumpsters. Make a deal with them…
    They maintain the site in a sanitary and safe condition; contribute (if able) to the cost of the port-a-potties and trash removal; report ANY crime or drug use, then they can keep the encampment.
    My feeling as to the reaction of the Mayor on this is that site is one of the final four for the jail, and they have already made the choice of that site to house it.
    This is the type of place that the “Tent Cities” should be set up in, not parking lots of neighborhood churches.

  • my2cents September 25, 2008 (12:03 pm)

    Whats so offensive about the existence of an organized homeless camp? Are they doing anything to you besides making you call up your values on what a “productive life” should be. So what are you like their father/mother now? I am not denying that there will always be people who live homeless by choice. But hey its a choice and who is anyone to tell a man or woman how they should live their life? It is however a choice so let em deal with it right? But the part about this that is important to me is that there also will ALWAYS be people who are going through a rough period in their lives. The reason they lost their home and money and friends to stay with is not your place to cast judgment. If there are organized homeless camps like this one, there is a safe environment for folks to go to try to get their life back together. People in a community tend to help each other to keep the peace within that community. So a camp like this could help to provide safety and shelter for people experiencing hard times where the city falls short. They are not camping in your yard. They are camping in an out of the way place and they even have a porta-potty for their poop to go in. Just let em stay.

  • Michael September 25, 2008 (12:06 pm)

    Have the “advocates” volunteered their janitorial and (24/7) security services for as long as the camp is there?
    I sure hope so.

  • katydid September 25, 2008 (12:32 pm)

    When I was a member of The Raging Grannies, I spent a cold, autumn night sleeping out with some of these folks in front of the county city building. they were seeking to sleep in the lobby during cold nights. That was at least 6 years ago. It was very cold and noisy outside. And we had to be escorted to the porta potty several blocks away as it was too dangerous to walk alone.

    BTW, as part of the Granny group, I spent time with Leo, a wellknown tent city organizer, going around to various media outlets in town with a news release, inviting them to join our P.J. Party. No one took us up on our offer. Guess it wasn’t newsworthy. After all, the homeless are always with us.

    WHY (and I am shouting here) do we have to continue to plead for housing for the homeless? I sometimes think those in power don’t care. Case in point, the now boarded up Lara Lake apartments near the airport that the City of Burien wanted to condemn and use for commercial buildings. I’ll bet a number of homeless could be housed there permanently if the utilities were turned back on.

  • justme September 25, 2008 (1:59 pm)

    I just came home from dropping off a donation for the tent campers. Sleeping bags, cook stove, coats, blankets, etc…I spoke to one of the “gatekeepers” so to speak. He was very friendly and told all about how the camp operates. Round the clock Security, no drugs, no drinking, no fighting or swearing, no abuse, etc. Sounds like a lot more organization and control then a lot of our own much fancier households. And a whole lot more compassion going on there then a lot of us experience each day.
    One of the residents told me that many of them are on 5 year waiting lists for affordable housing. And, I’m just a few paychecks away from that myself, like so many of us. That’s a scary thought.
    I know dropping off a few necessities is a drop in the bucket compared to the bigger picture but I just can’t stand the thought of ONE miserable and cold human being sleeping on the ground without hope.
    Let’s all go out into our garages and put to good use some of those unused items! It’s easy to load up your car or truck and drive down there. They came out to me, I didn’t have to lift a finger!

  • ConcernedCitizen September 25, 2008 (4:53 pm)

    This is just ludicrous. It is cold today, cold and damp. Typical fall weather for the area. Would the Mayor like to camp out tonight? How about for a weekend or a week? How about for the entire winter?

    Now there’s a reality show I’d like to see: Mayor Nickels has to survive the entire winter with no money, no credit cards, no friends or family assistance, and just the belongings on his back. No restaurant meals. No chauffeur, just Metro — if he’s even allowed bus fare.


    Now, this is not entirely fair to Mayor Nickels in that he didn’t exactly invent the homeless problem, and truthfully it would be nice to see people have real buildings for shelter.

    But Mayor Nickels has also headed the city’s efforts to push the homeless out of public areas — to go where exactly?

    It’s common knowledge that shelter space is already in short supply even for single men or single women. You’d think there’d be more shelters for families (single parents or multiple adults with one or more children) than there is — the reality is that families require more space, and are thus more difficult/costly to house.

    Here’s a group of homeless people costing the city very little, if anything. It’ll cost far more to remove them, and even cost even more money to create longer-term housing solutions.

    Our public policy in the City of Seattle seems to be to push the homeless out of sight, out of mind. To do otherwise would cost precious money that has to come from somewhere.

    Exactly where should these people go? The irony of the site being a proposed jail site should not be lost on any of us. What’s a person to do — get arrested for trespassing enough to qualify for a night or two in jail so that they can get warm?

  • Scott B. September 25, 2008 (7:24 pm)


    I suggested you let one of those people sleep on your couch. You asked if I know the problem is bigger than your couch.

    Uh, yes, I think I do.

    You stated “Scott, I work in the field.” You provided no additional information, so I assume you mean the field of social work. You said you work, so I assume you are paid to work in the field of social work.

    If you think the rest of us who pay taxes to pay your wages should pay even more to support even more incorrigible alcoholics, then I think my suggestion to let one sleep on your couch was on-topic. Volunteer something yourself instead of getting paid to do your job, then telling the taxpayers that we should pay more and/or volunteer.

    If you think the rest of us who pay taxes to pay your wages should pay those taxes to institutionalize crazies instead of supporting incorrigible alcoholics, other drug addicts, and/or people who just don’t want to fit into a normal lifestyle of working and living in close proximity with others *and* following rules, then I agree with you. Allowing public policy to be the same for all homeless people regardless of cause is not right.

    I have tried to put words into your mouth considering likely points of view. If I have failed to help you articulate your point of view, then my excuse is that I was not able to pick up your brainwaves, so I was unable to read your mind.

  • Alcina September 25, 2008 (10:51 pm)

    Westwood Resident, the organizers of Nickelsville had port-a-potties on site on the first day and the residents of Nickelsville are paying for them. Please see the photo here of the port-a-potties being delivered.

    Scott B, I would be interested in hearing what you would suggest should be the solutions to homelessness or do you think the problem should it just be ignored?

  • Kayleigh September 26, 2008 (4:53 am)

    Scott, I am not a social worker; I work for a homeless organization. So nine or ten hours a day, I work to solve the problem that you are currently complaining about. You don’t pay my salary unless you donate to our organization (am speaking for myself here, not on my organization’s behalf.)

    What do you do to solve the problem, other than pay your taxes like everybody else?

    Just so you know, somone close to me recently became homeless, and he does occassionally sleep on my couch. And guess what: he is still homeless. It didn’t solve anything. If everybody in West Seattle hugged a homeless person and let them sleep on their couches, in the morning, THEY WOULD STILL BE HOMELESS.

    So I was wondering if you understood how complex the problem was, how not all the homeless are “street” homeless, how not all the homeless are addicts, how the real issue is our staggering lack off affordable housing in Seattle. Because I didn’t really understand until I started working in the area.

    You may not like it, Scott, but there are people out there who do not have your smarts, your coping mechanisms, your support, your background, your education, your psychological stability, etc. And when life hits them hard (and it hits all of us hard in some way, at some point), they may not make the choices you or I would make.

    And they are still human beings who deserve a *home*, which will give them the best chance at getting back as productive, tax-paying members of society.

  • justme September 26, 2008 (10:31 am)

    Some people on here are better put to use taking a donation down to Nickelsville of babywipes, tools, first aid and sleeping bags, etc. Sitting behind our computers and speculating and bantering doesn’t do anything more good then our sluggish stubborn greedy politicians.

  • Scott B. September 26, 2008 (9:56 pm)


    You admit that you are paid to work for a “homeless organization.” Instead of exhorting the taxpayers to solve the homeless problem, I suggest you volunteer in your personal space:
    take a homeless person into your home so that both of you have the same home. Then that person will not be homeless, and you can stand on morally defensible ground while berating the rest of us.

  • Scott B. September 26, 2008 (10:01 pm)


    Here is what you wrote:

    “Scott B, I would be interested in hearing what you would suggest should be the solutions to homelessness or do you think the problem should it just be ignored?”

    What you wrote is a jumbled mess. I suggest you re-read the post I wrote to which you apparently object. You may find at least one answer to what you seem to be asking.

Sorry, comment time is over.