Camp Second Chance likely to add residents, director tells Community Advisory Committee

July 11, 2021 3:35 pm
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 |   Myers Way Parcels | West Seattle news

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

A potential expansion and a personnel shortage were part of what the Camp Second Chance Community Advisory Committee heard about this afternoon.

Camp Second Chance (9701 Myers Way S.) is the only city-sanctioned tiny-house encampment in West Seattle, close to the southeast city-limit line. The all-volunteer Community Advisory Committee meets monthly – currently, online – to hear updates and ask questions about camp operations. Meetings have usually been on first Sundays, but this month’s meeting was pushed back a week because of the holiday.

CAMP REPORT: Director Scott Harris (who is a LIHI employee) said CSC currently has 51 residents – 15 women, 36 men – and LIHI is looking to expand, adding up to 20 people (other tiny-house encampments, he said, are being eyed for expansion as well). The camp has space, he said, though this would mean adding tiny houses.

Other camp updates:

-6 exits in June, 4 to The Clay (a hotel that LIHI now operates as housing) – one of whom had to go to the hospital during the recent heat wave because of dehydration; 2 people simply left

-3 new arrivals and a 4th expected soon

-3 911 calls, all medical

-The UW medical van was there last month, expected back in August

-King County Public Health returned for a second vaccine event, lot of second doses; CSC now has a “pretty high percentage” of vaccinated campers as he understands – 35 out of the 51 is the estimate

-Visitors are still asked to wear masks, LIHI expected to drop that at month’s end.

An incident last week involved seeing a non-camper on a motorcycle on nearby City Light property, the gate – adjacent to the camp – was unlocked. They’re having trouble contacting the city to fix it; they’d like to get the fence chained again with CSC access to a key in case of emergency access needs.

Big issue: Harris says CSC has gone a year without a fulltime case manager on site. A person was hired and then took another job one day before they were scheduled to start. Harris asked the committee for support in advocating with LIHI to get the position filled; he feels C2C is a low priority for the organization (which gets city funding to operate it). He’s advocated internally but feels he’s hit a wall – the situation is not good for campers who need case-management help with housing and other resources. “We should have had a [full-time] case manager a long, long time ago.” Also, he said, the camp hasn’t had a security person for a while but will be hiring one within six to eight weeks.

Camp needs: Bath towels and bedding – fitted sheets (twin size), pillowcases in particular.

Cathy Phillips from camp partner Fauntleroy UCC said the church had a donation drive in the parking lot last Sunday and gathered hygiene items and games.

COMMITTEE MEMBERS’ UPDATES: Chair Willow Fulton, who lives nearby, said speed is still an issue on Myers Way; a person lighting fireworks along the street (not a camp resident or visitor) was hit by a driver on the 4th of July. There was discussion about the roadside fencing protecting pedestrians, including camp residents headed to/from bus stops, from traffic near the nearby senior-living complex Arrowhead Gardens, and a desire for the city to add sturdier roadside protection; no city rep showed up for the meeting, though. “The situation right now is not a good solution for anyone,” Fulton observed. Illegal dumping along Myers Way also continues to be a problem. … Grace Stiller of Weed Warriors recapped that her program is wrapping up its environmental restoration work, grant-funded in partnership with CSC residents, and has its “graduation” next Saturday, including a celebration of new signage in the wetland area. “It’s been a really wonderful project, working with Camp Second Chance members.” They’ve removed blackberries and planted 175 trees and bushes, including thimbleberries. Another phase will be ahead – blackberries tend to come back; bark mulch also needs to be brought in. The next phase likely will start in early September. … Committee member Cinda Stenger of Alki UCC/Westside Interfaith Network was in attendance too.

Q&A: Stenger wondered about the status of emergency overnight shelter that CSC used to offer if people showed up; Harris said that won’t be resuming because of the impending expansion. Stenger also said the WIN weekly lunch in White Center has a need for men’s casual clothing if CSC has any spillover. And she added that 12 Nicaraguan refugee families have recently been settled in the White Center area and they have needs too. … A question emailed by committee member Aaron Garcia, who couldn’t attend, was when community-building events could resume at the camp; probably in early August, Harris said. The camp is working on policies for visitor registration and vehicles, among other things. …. Another question was about a report of a MRSA outbreak in the camp; Harris said several cases were suspected but never confirmed. He also said the camp’s water tanks are having some sediment-buildup problems … Fulton asked a followup about how the camp weathered the recent record heat, wondering whether any needs remained for potential recurrences. Harris said he’d stocked up on water and Otter Pops (on sale at an area grocery store, and the camp has four chest freezers). He said nobody else had heat-related health trouble. …. John Waller wondered if the tiny houses were designed to exhaust heat. While their insulation works to keep heat in during the winter, Harris said, they’re “not designed that well” for summer heat. Committee members agreed that would be a good thing for Sound Foundations NW – which used to build the tiny houses at CSC and now builds them in SODO – to know.

NEXT MEETING: 2 pm August 1st, but the CAC is still talking about changing days.

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