Camp Second Chance can stay on Myers Way Parcels at least six more months, city says

(WSB photo of Camp Second Chance entrance, December 2017)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Camp Second Chance, the only city-sanctioned encampment in West Seattle, is getting a six-month extension.

The camp on the city-owned Myers Way Parcels in southeast West Seattle [map] is at the end of the two-years-maximum stay that’s currently allowed under city law – and has actually been at the site going on three years. It first occupied the location without authorization starting in July 2016, gaining the authorization in spring 2017. A decision on its fate has been long expected and was just announced this morning by the city Human Services Department, which also gave six-month extensions to two other sanctioned encampments in other parts of the city. From the announcement:

Camp Second Chance, Georgetown Village, and Othello Village will be temporarily re-permitted for an additional six months. During this time, the City will develop a long-term strategy for these sites with community input that will serve residents of villages and the surrounding community.

Homelessness remains a crisis in Seattle and the City’s responsibility is to provide services and shelter resources that are effective in helping people transition from homelessness to housing — tiny house villages have proven to be one solution within the City’s overall response. In 2018, villages City-wide served 658 unique households and exited 135 households to permanent housing, an increase of 32 percent from 2017.

“Tiny-house villages” is the term the city now uses for its sanctioned encampments. As we’ve reported previously, donations have funded tiny houses for most of Camp Second Chance’s residents. The camp usually reports about 50 residents at any given time, when those reports are delivered at the monthly meetings of its volunteer Community Advisory Committee, which we routinely cover.

The camp is self-managed, with a no-drugs/alcohol policy, and the city contract to operate it is held by the Low-Income Housing Institute, which pays for staff including an on-site director (currently camp co-founder Eric Davis and case manager Richard Horne).

Also from today’s city announcement:

The City’s decision grants monthly temporary-use permits to these sites for the next six months. During this time, the City will develop a long-term strategy for these specific villages, considering all options for the future of these programs and sites. In order to develop these strategies, the City will work with communities to organize meetings in neighborhoods hosting villages to learn more about how the City can be responsive to community needs and how to best serve residents of the villages.

Last year’s decision to extend the permit for a second year was preceded by city-convened meetings, but there haven’t been any this time. In January, we covered two community meetings on the topic (both with city reps in attendance) – the Westside Interfaith Network gathering camp supporters at a meeting in Fauntleroy and the Highland Park Action Committee holding a “listening session” to decide on whether to support extending the camp’s stay. (Ultimately, as we reported March 4th, HPAC opposed it.)

The city’s explanation also includes:

The City has also learned that siting, developing, and relocating tiny house villages remains an ongoing challenge given property logistics, costs, and program needs of serving people experiencing homelessness. The City has also learned that providing 24/7, enhanced shelter is one of the best solutions to help people off Seattle’s streets and into safer living situations.

The extension of these villages does not impact the status of the other six City-funded villages.

Camp Second Chance’s status was already scheduled to be discussed at HPAC’s regular monthly meeting tonight (7 pm, Highland Park Improvement Club, 1116 SW Holden). The city’s homelessness-response spokesperson Will Lemke told WSB that the six-month extension would run to September, though the second-year extension wasn’t formally announced last year until June.

ADDED 10:35 AM: The full city announcement, which we originally received via email (as we have long been inquiring about the timetable/process for the decision), is now posted on the city website.

49 Replies to "Camp Second Chance can stay on Myers Way Parcels at least six more months, city says"

  • HTB March 27, 2019 (10:42 am)

    Hoping for a new City Council. No one currently wants to bite the bullet and do what needs to be done.

    • old timer March 27, 2019 (11:04 am)

      Just what does ‘bite the bullet’ mean?What does need to be done?Do you have the answers?  

    • Swede. March 27, 2019 (11:20 am)

      What ‘needs to be done’? How should that be done? Who can/should do it? Solutions and ideas does better than vague negative criticism. 

      • Teri Ensley March 29, 2019 (12:51 pm)

        Thank Swede…I was thinking the same thing!

    • CAM March 27, 2019 (11:34 am)

      I’m missing the part of the story that references how this decision was made by the city council?

  • Gatewood March 27, 2019 (10:43 am)

    I wish the city could find a way to help these folks and also keep their promise to the neighborhood of two years max for a camp stay.  This is only going to cause more opposition the next time they try to open a camp somewhere.  Shortsighted move.

  • jsparra March 27, 2019 (10:56 am)

    New city council, new mayor, enforce our laws, offer/require treatment for those in addiction, that’s REAL compassion and assistance. Enabling this behavior is Abuse…from someone who’s son passed from this horrible disaster. 

    • quiz March 27, 2019 (10:26 pm)

      Yes, not enforcing our laws does a disservice to all involved. 

    • Michelle March 28, 2019 (12:47 am)

      Camp second chance doesn’t allow drugs or alcohol, so I’m not understanding your point.

  • WSmama March 27, 2019 (10:58 am)

    Can’t help folks who won’t take the help.

    • CAM March 27, 2019 (11:36 am)

      How is that comment relevant to this specific camp? From all I’ve read these individuals are seeking and more than willing to accept help and additionally are making substantial contributions to the maintenance and running of the camp that have kept it a safe place for residents and others in the neighborhood. 

    • KBear March 27, 2019 (11:40 am)

      WSmama, what help is being refused? You’re just repeating an ignorant trope. Most people are not homeless by choice. 

      • Rick March 28, 2019 (7:58 am)

        Some aren’t but actions do have consequences. Usually.

  • West Seattle Hipster March 27, 2019 (11:37 am)

    Asking the city council to address concerns on this issue doesn’t always go well:.

  • Ben Calot March 27, 2019 (11:55 am)

    Going on 3 years against a two year legal limit, and they get another extension.Absurd.The City of Seattle has repeatedly lied to our neighborhood regarding this camp and it’s future. At this point I see no reason to believe that the camp won’t become a permanent fixture in our neighborhood.Advice: If the City tries to allow one of these in your neighborhood, get the neighbors together immediately and hire a lawyer. Don’t wait, be aggressive. The city is ruthless and will capitalize on your weakness if you allow it.

  • Concerned March 27, 2019 (12:05 pm)

    The city reneged on it’s end of the bargain. 

    • Anonymous Coward March 27, 2019 (2:09 pm)

      The city is altering the deal.  Pray they do not alter it further.

  • T Rex March 27, 2019 (12:47 pm)

    Everyone needs to watch Seattle is Dying. It is the TRUTH about the “homeless” problem we have in Seattle. It is NOT what our loser Mayor and City Council keep telling people. It is on KOMO’s website and you tube and has been watched well over 500,000 times. Ouy mayor responded to this documentary by stating that KOMO only showed the bad places. Well Jenny, the bad places are everywhere now. White Center, Burien, SODO, Downtown, Ballard, Northgate and so on. Camp Second Chance seems to be regulated and we are told there are no drugs or drinking and that may be true. And if this true, why can’t the city help those in Second Chance get into Plymouth Housing, or Mary’sPlace? 

    What the hell did they spend our money on?? That is the question we should all be asking as it is only getting worse.

    • Mr J March 27, 2019 (2:36 pm)

      That “documentary” is a propaganda piece by Sinclair Media, owners of Komo 4. Please look it up as I’m sure you won’t believe me or continue living in a libertarian wonderland barking uninformed comments. All West Coast Cities are facing this problem and this camp is helping people transition off the street. Move it where is what the City needs to sort out and provide a permanent space. If if you believe the documentary then move. I hear your vote counts more in Wyoming. 

      • Candrewb March 27, 2019 (3:57 pm)

        Christ, surprised you didn’t throw in the Koch Brothers in your attack on the messenger.

      • Brb March 27, 2019 (4:14 pm)

        Is it your position that the filth impacting public spaces and our environment, costing tax dollars to perpetually clean and the rampant drug abuse and untreated mental health crisis depicted in that documentary were all staged? Or simply that it presented an imbalanced view? Because it could be claimed that insisting that all or most people experiencing homelessness are victims of unaffordable housing is also an intentional bias to support a particular narrative.

        • AvalonTom March 27, 2019 (7:07 pm)

          Camp Second Chance is drug and alcohol free. It’s probably cleaner than your neighbors yard. These ARE the people who are trying to get out of homelessness.  Stop equating all problems in the city and under bridges with this camp. There is room for granularity here people. To the people who think this camp is a burden on you, please in detail explain how.  Besides that they breathe the same air as you do, how exactly (be specific) the people who are trying to fix their lives at Camp Second Chance are hurting you. The KOMO piece had NOTHING to do with camp second chance. These days the conversation in this city has come down to people throwing ideological feces.

      • Dr David Kerlick March 28, 2019 (2:36 am)

        Yes, Sinclair Broadcasting enforces right-wing TRUMP views and scripts and forces local newscasters to read them as if their own.

        • Q Sent Me March 28, 2019 (1:23 pm)

          As opposed to say, ALL the other media outlets (owned by a mere 5 or 6 corporations) that get their far left talking points every morning at 4 a.m.? The media, in its present state, is pure propaganda for the Cabal. Soros, The Rothschilds (the banker scum that have bankrolled BOTH sides of every war to their own advantage–do some research), the elite one percenters who are trying to destroy this country from the inside out. Not gonna happen, but they came close. Have you heard about Q and the Qanon movement? It’s military intel coming straight from the White Hats. It’s what “draining the swamp” is really all about. Ending the corruption that has taken over our government. Are you aware there are over 90,000 sealed indictments waiting to be opened? Our world is about to change in very real and positive ways. Expect a FISA DECLAS coming soon, that will make it very clear that the FAR left (not just normal Democrats who still love this country) had a plan to destroy this county.  No matter which side of the aisle you sit on, I think most sane people will agree that child sex trafficking, Satanism, drug trafficking, ritualistic torture (again children), pedophilia, cannibalism and even more common acts of treason are crimes that cannot stand. The rule of law WILL be restored in this land. / As for whether or not Sinclair is pushing a conservative agenda, probably so. But in this town in particular, the pendulum needs to swing toward the middle, and in a hurry. The level of criminal enabling here is obscene. I hope every city council incumbent is sent packing. / In the meantime, turn off your TV. You can get the factual (not fake) news by following Qanon. There’s even a book (top-seller) to catch you up. WWG1WGA.

  • Jim P. March 27, 2019 (12:59 pm)

    “The City has also learned that providing 24/7, enhanced shelter is one
    of the best solutions to help people off Seattle’s streets and into
    safer living situations.”Ah but what progress, if any, has been made in getting these people off the public dole on a long term basis?  That is the true desired outcome in a rational world.I suspect there is a large percentage of the tax-paying citizenry who have no interest in providing a permanent free home to people.A helping hand for hard times is one thing.  A long term, no questions asked/no responsibilities  demanded, free handout system is quite another.

  • curious March 27, 2019 (2:14 pm)

    I’m curious about the procedural process that allowed for an extension beyond the two-year time limit that is specified by City law. a) Council just flaunts the law, hoping to get away with it? Hoping someone doesn’t sue to make them follow the law?b) The homeless emergency declaration lets them ignore the law?Or something else?

  • RB. March 27, 2019 (2:41 pm)

    You can not go to plymouth if you are a couple with pets. Even when you can pass drug screening. DA.

  • Celeste17 March 27, 2019 (4:00 pm)

    How many people has this camp helped in two plus years?  What incentive is there to move on?  

    • CAM March 27, 2019 (5:03 pm)

      So are you suggesting that if you lived in this camp that you would have no incentive to move out to more permanent and stable housing with a myriad of other benefits? If you are not suggesting that then I guess my question is why do you assume that the individuals who live in this camp have aspirations and motivations that are so different from yours?

      • AvalonTom March 27, 2019 (7:25 pm)

        Since I spend about 5 days a week at the camp, I can give some insight. about 40-50% of the people at the camp work.  They just dont earn enough to pay rent, food, transportation. These are the working poor that load your produce trucks, paint your business, and clean offices at night or the stadium after a game.  Some have legal / financial obligations / problems that they are trying to address. Another 20%-30% are disabled and can’t work. They should be placed in better facilities but those resources dont exist for everyone who needs them so here we are. The last group is seniors. Again, we dont have the resources to house them all in deeply affordable housing,  I think people really need a reality check about this issue (nation wide) Seattle is no different than many big cities were property values are sky high and incomes have not kept up. Of all the places, Camp Second Chance is THE most successful camp were the cops never come, there is no trash, there is no noise.   There are other cities copying this model as you read this. I know because I have spoken to county commissioners and CM’s from other places and they email us with technical questions on power needs, or how to better build the tiny homes. All of this is part of our reality in this nation.   People who say we need to “bite the bullet and do what needs to be done” are delusional and perhaps a bit sadistic. There are as many reasons for homelessness as there are people who are homeless. Some programs work well for some and other programs work better for others.  What I see is that the villages serve a need. It’s time that this community recognise that this camp is an asset, a relief valve when things go wrong in people’s lives and not a liability. Fun fact there are a few folks at the camp who used to own properties in the neighbourhood but lost them due to job loss or mistakes. There are LGBTQ folks who were abondoned by their families and they had nowhere to go.  This issue is so much more complicated, and some of these comments really make me question the future of our community.

        • Mike March 27, 2019 (8:45 pm)

          So, think about what could be done with the over $1B the Puget Sound area spends just on homelessness.  There are sky rises that are winning awards for their architecture and low impact on the environment being built in Seattle for half as much.  They literally have enough room to house every homeless person in the Puget Sound, provide clean water, showers, kitchens, toilets and more.  If our government officials took just half the budget and built one building for homeless, they could have every single one of them off the street.  Take the other half billion and put that towards food, medication, mental health care.  That’s just the first year, the second year you’d have over $1B again to put to everything you need using the same building.  Imagine that.  What it comes down to is using money wisely, stop wasting it.  There is ZERO accountability for the over $1B being spent yearly, there’s no paper trail.  Somebody is getting paid, sure isn’t the tax payers that are footing the bill.

          • Jethro Marx March 28, 2019 (8:23 am)

            It sounds like a VERY innovative building! Let’s say it’s 30 stories (it is, after all, a “sky rise”). You will need to find room for 300 units on each floor, or 150 if you can fit bunk beds in them. That’s some sweet micro-housing! Will there be parking?

          • zark00 March 28, 2019 (10:26 am)

            The $1B figure is from ‘Seattle is Dying’ and is wildly inaccurate.  Seattle spends about $60M a year on homeless issues.  The made up $1B includes, among other things, the value of the union gospel mission building – about $16M.  Seattle doesn’t ‘spend’ that $16M each year on homeless issues, it’s just how much that building is worth.  Totally misleading information from that “documentary”.  Harborview’s entire yearly cost for emergency services for uninsured is also in that $1B “Seattle” spends each year – it’s really unfortunate how little effort people actually put in to being informed.  Oh yeah, and $750M of the 1B is the entire operational budget for not for profit charities who support homeless issues.  Part of YMCA’s annual budget is included in the “$1B Seattle spends on homeless issues”.  The founder of Real Change called Seattle is Dying “misery porn” – it is, and you are consuming it and wallowing in it.  Gross. Be better.

          • Mike March 29, 2019 (12:42 pm)

            No, that figure is from 2017, the cost has gone up since.  Nice try though. 😉

        • KM March 27, 2019 (10:22 pm)

          AvalonTom, this is such a measured, thoughtful response. Thank you.

        • Teri Ensley March 29, 2019 (12:59 pm)

          Thank you.  Well stated.

  • Chris March 27, 2019 (5:30 pm)

    We know several that are in this camp that have been on a waiting list for several years for housing.   They are very nice people, that just came into some bad times.   There are people that are homeless for various reasons, including families with children.    We also knew one particular person that was homeless because it was important to him to pay the child support and he held down several jobs to make that happen.   He was also respected by those he worked with.   He did eventually find a place he could afford.    Camp Second Chance is regulated….no drugs, etc.    Granted there are those homeless out there that do create problems, however we would hope that people do not judge all homeless people by the few that do cause problems, and have some compassion.    We would hope that the government would be able to step things up to find homes for those in need.   We are thankful everyday for having a roof over our heads.    

  • Heartless? March 27, 2019 (5:59 pm)

    +1 T-Rex.  You are not alone in your thinking!

  • Heartless? March 27, 2019 (7:13 pm)

    I’ll have to find compassion somewhere, because what I had before seems to have run out! Seems to me that therein lies the underlying problem to this whole emergency.  For me, anyways.(Please note the question mark in my user name) 

  • John Walling March 27, 2019 (7:16 pm)

    I am interested in the 24/7 shelter idea. Would it be better than sanctioned camps with tiny houses? Or, would be a downgrade in living conditions? The City has a lot of explaining to do.

    • AvalonTom March 27, 2019 (7:31 pm)

      In my mind C2C is a 24/7 shelter with tiny homes (read privacy) rather then some open tent or floor where there is no privacy and possibly compromised health / safety. There are people there who are going to school, who work, who have medical issues that need long term attention, who are in long term recovery. If you are interested in how the camp works, go visit it. I’m there all the time building tiny homes (i’m a volunteer) and can give you a tour and introduce you to some of the folks there.

  • Highline Teacher March 27, 2019 (10:38 pm)

    Thank you for your personal insight on C2C, AvalonTom.

  • CMT March 28, 2019 (9:39 am)

    I admit I don’t know the answer but I can see that the City’s approach toward homelessness is not helping.  The failure of the City to enforce laws that protect the health and safety of law abiding citizens (blatant drug use, piles of garbage and waste, property crime), and what appears to be an acceptance of homelessness as an alternative lifestyle rather than a time of transition have so fatigued many in Seattle that even people that originally (and rightly) had compassion for those such as the people at Camp Second Chance are starting to view all homeless as one and the same.  I’m not saying that is right, it’s just what I hear from people every day, kind people, empathetic people.

  • MJ March 28, 2019 (11:23 am)

    I see the residents are clean and sober many of whom are working.  At minimum wage a person grosses about $2,700 a month.  Apodment units rent out for $885 a month that equates to about 33% of gross monthly wage.  Not sure why apodment option is not used?  Or whatever happened to a group of people renting a house and sharing expenses?

  • Jeff March 28, 2019 (2:39 pm)

    I’m torn on this latest decision. Camp Second Chance appears well run and quite successful. However,1) the city promised this would be over in 2 years, and they broke that promise, and2) while as I said the actual Camp seems well-run, it does seem to attract those who won’t accept their rules, so they  hang out nearby in unsanctioned camps, leaving their garbage, drug paraphernalia, etc. 

  • Steve March 28, 2019 (2:59 pm)

    Glad they extended the permit. Senseless to kick them out with no other options. 

  • 1994 March 28, 2019 (8:21 pm)

    Tiny house camps are disingenuous. They are touted as temporary arrangements  to help get the homeless back on their feet yet they ask for more and more services at the temporary location – electricity, running water, hygiene trailers, Wi-Fi (which may be provided by free by Seattle Library)….. When the permit expires, they are not ready to shut down, the camp has become too much like home, it is too expensive to ‘move’ them, what are they going to do with all the tiny shacks???…..Low-Income Housing Institute the fiscal sponsor for city sanctioned villages  has an inherent conflict of interest. LIHI is receiving city/county/federal/donated funds, they are not a fiscal sponsor, to run these so called camps. If the camps close, LIHI loses funding….these so called camps should be closed.

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