Wanda Williams was the first to arrive at the safe lot on Friday. Her recreational vehicle, or RV, was right behind her, being towed into a lot in Ballard.
“I’m so excited,” she yelled out.
This is a safe lot, the first of its kind in Seattle. It’s on Shilshole Avenue Northwest, and in addition to security, there will be a case manager on site to connect residents to social services.
A second lot in West Seattle will open later. Both lots are temporary and scheduled to close in six months. The lots are part of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s emergency response to Seattle’s homeless crisis.
Across the street is the Yankee Diner, where Williams say she would eat years ago. She was a nurse at Swedish back in the day, she says; mental illness and a series of events left her homeless.
Once the RV is parked, Williams goes inside to see whether her home survived the short trip.
“They did a great job, all the China’s fine,” she said. “Nothing’s broken.”
Her roommate Tim Pugsley joins her, and they hug. “We’ve been through so much just to get here,” Williams says.
The neighbors where they parked before were tough, she says. “They treated us badly. It was hard.”
Williams has been homeless for three years. She says she’s anxious to get help and be part of society again.
“I have no criminal background,” she says. “I worked for years. I’m just trying to get my life together. Just one thing after another happened.”
Across the street, Robert Madsen runs a custom furniture business. The idea of a safe lot hasn’t been popular in the neighborhood, but Madsen says homelessness and the problems associated with it can no longer be ignored.
“I’m about to be tested,” Madsen said. “Let’s see how it goes.”