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.
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.