Seattle City Council Expresses Concern Over Homeless Sweeps | KUOW News and Information

Seattle City Council Expresses Concern Over Homeless Sweeps

Jan 20, 2016

Seattle City Council members got an update Tuesday on how the city removes homeless camps -- and they want to see changes.

City staff and police have cleared out about 40 unsanctioned homeless sites since November and have a list of 170 more to consider. Most of those camps consist of a few people living in tents or sleeping bags.

Councilmember Lisa Herbold said she is concerned that most of the people told to move did not end up in a shelter or other housing. She has heard similar concerns from homeless advocates.

Herbold: "They are very concerned that the city's practices include referring people from encampments to shelters that are already at capacity, effectively displacing people that are already in shelter and forcing those indoors back on to the street."

Herbold has requested that the list of current homeless sites facing removal should be made public. And she wants to know which places need to be shut down for public safety reasons, and which ones could be left alone for now.

Seattle's homeless sweep protocol was developed in 2008. Herbold said it is time for an update.

No decisions have been made for now, but the City Council will revisit the issue next month in a committee meeting Feb. 10.