Homeless, and now campless, in Seattle's Ravenna neighborhood | KUOW News and Information

Homeless, and now campless, in Seattle's Ravenna neighborhood

Apr 19, 2018

Charlie Blackwood was running off three hours of sleep and seven cups of coffee when he packed up his belongings. He had been living with seven other people in a plot of woods in Ravenna, in northeast Seattle, when city crews arrived with trucks and shovels to clear it out.

"Our civil liberties are being violated. We are being treated like second class citizens, for no reason," Blackwood said. He filled a big cart with belongings, and hauled it away on the Burke-Gilman Trail.

Protesters tried and failed to stop the camp near the University Village from being evicted. Blackwood, who is 20, says he’s been homeless since July and now is looking for a new place. 

Meanwhile, city crews with gloves and shovels in hand removed the last remnants of the Ravenna Woods camp. City officials say the camp was too dangerous, with piles of garbage and human waste.

“It is inhumane to allow individuals to be living unsheltered in these conditions,” Will Lemke, city spokesman said. The wooded area was just one of the city's 400 unsanctioned homeless camps.

Outreach workers visited and offered everyone a spot in a shelter - but no takers. According to Blackwood, "Some of us had really negative experiences with shelters and voiced that from the very beginning."

Just across the trail, J.C. Parker maintains the Trailside Apartments building. He told KUOW, “I’m glad they’re getting them out of here.”

"They’d break into here," Parker said. "They would drill the coin boxes to get the coins. We switched to plain ol’ free laundry for the tenants." Parker said he used to have empathy for homeless people, but after dealing with thefts, broken doors and feces left in his building, he's over it.

But he said he expects people will eventually return to camp in the woods nearby, despite the latest sweep.