FOLLOWUP: How the South Delridge sidewalk camp shrank

We’ve been reporting on the sidewalk camp along the west side of Delridge Way just north of SW Roxbury. At one point, more than a dozen tents were blocking the sidewalk there, but as we reported last week, it’s shrunk to just a few tents. That happened without a city “sweep” removal operation, though one was pending until outreach workers learned of a gastrointestinal-illness outbreak among people living there. Seattle-King County Public Health was investigating the outbreak. We finally got an update from Public Health spokesperson Kate Cole, who tells WSB, “We have completed this investigation. Based on gathering illness reports from outreach workers familiar with the encampment, we believe it to have been an outbreak of norovirus-like illness based on the clinical and epi picture. There does not appear to be any evidence of ongoing illness at this time and we are considering the cluster of GI illnesses resolved.” But that hasn’t led to a renewal of the original plan to clear the camp, according to SDOT, where spokesperson Ethan Bergerson subsequently told us there is no current plan for that, despite an outreach worker telling us they believed the city might seek to “post” the remains of the camp for removal.

As for those who left, here’s how it happened, according to Jesse Benet of CoLEAD, the program that worked with people camping at the site. Benet sent outreach workers to the site two weeks earlier to get to know the people there. Eventually, Benet said, after talking with people at a site like this, they “bring out the clipboards” and start talking about options. Once they have shelter for someone, they set a “moving-out day,” and talk with the person about what they want to bring to the shelter and what they don’t want to bring. Benet’s team is there on moving day; whatever is left behind is handled by city workers who are part of the Clean City Initiative.

(“Moving day” cleanup at South Delridge camp – photo courtesy CoLEAD)

The people they work with have been generally moved into hotel rooms that have been funded temporarily by federal dollars. But they’re not just delivered to the rooms and left alone. Benet says they have case managers who work with people in the program to get them health care and housing assessments, for example. The CoLEAD work at this camp was part of the LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) program’s long-planned expansion into the White Center area, Benet said, adding that the program had been collaborating with City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who talks about it in her latest weekly newsletter.

As for what happens with the small camp that remains at the south end of the block, that’s not clear, but we will keep following up.

10 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: How the South Delridge sidewalk camp shrank"

  • Concerned May 23, 2021 (6:41 am)

    Is there any way to have outreach workers get in touch with the person in a  wheelchair living in the bus shelter at Alaska and Fauntleroy? They have been living there for at least a month. Would love to see them get some help and services. 

    • MJ May 23, 2021 (7:21 pm)

      I believe I know who you are referring to – they have been staying there for quite awhile, probably at least a year. They have generally been open to outreach but have refused efforts at relocation or more stable housing.

  • flimflam May 23, 2021 (8:36 am)

     There does not appear to be any evidence of ongoing illness at this time and we are considering the cluster of GI illnesses resolved.” But that hasn’t led to a renewal of the original plan to clear the camp, according to SDOT, where spokesperson Ethan Bergerson subsequently told us there is no current plan for that”———-so why is this? why leave the camp there when it was supposed to be removed? yes, i understand that some of the folks have moved or accepted services, but what was the point of all of this just to allow the situation, while smaller, to remain?

  • Concerned Seattlite May 23, 2021 (9:27 am)

    Federal dollars means tax payer money. Who will foot the bill later, since it says this is temporarily funded by federal dollars? And which hotels are they housed? How long are they staying there? And where are they going after that, they can’t live in hotels forever? What is the actual plan? Many questions unanswered, a follow up would be appreciated.

  • Lincoln Parker May 23, 2021 (11:36 am)

    I wish they’d take the same approach with the 6-10 folks living on the trails in Lincoln Park. It makes it unsafe to walk the trails there alone. 

    • StopCuttingDownTrees May 23, 2021 (12:29 pm)

      Where are they in the park? I go there several times a week and I’ve never seen an encampment besides one near the central entrance a few weeks ago. That guy moved on. He was very rude and was surfing on his phone while his giant, agressive dog had me cornered against a tree on the main trail. I called SPD and they showed up fast.

    • JP May 23, 2021 (2:01 pm)

      How do 6-10 campers make it unsafe? 

      • 1994 May 23, 2021 (5:51 pm)

        As experienced by stopcuttingdowntrees it can feel unsafe with 1 human and 1 dog!  6-10  humans could feel more unsafe, and appear intimidating, if they have  a similar attitude like the 1 rude dude. Most of us go to the park to relax and enjoy ourselves. We don’t expect to need to feel like on high alert.

      • sgs May 24, 2021 (9:08 am)

        Because they may not just be “campers.”  Mental illness and drug abuse are rampant in our “campers.”    I’ve been accosted by “campers” many times.   Using that word makes discussions fuzzy.

  • Jerry T June 5, 2021 (8:19 am)

    These “campers” are blatantly dealing drugs and using drugs in front of anyone who walks by, stealing electricity from the adjacent buildings, deficating in bushes, and constantly prowling on nearby cars and doorsteps. The encampment in the small park just north of these tents blocking the sidewalk is the worst. Loved having to teach my daughter about anatomy after she saw one adult male relieving himself one morning between cars outside our home. I am fresh out of empathy.

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