Seattle crews remove people experiencing homelessness from Seven Hills Park
The city of Seattle cleared out a homeless tent encampment at Seven Hills Park in Capitol Hill Thursday morning. Outreach workers say they connected most people with some form of temporary shelter, but a few moved their tent and belongings to a new spot.
Even before Seattle Parks crews arrived Thursday morning, Matt Havens was cleaning the area around his tent in preparation of the clearing.
“It shows self-respect,” Havens said with a rake in his hands. “It shows respect for others, these neighbors here and their families.”
Havens was one of the last people to leave Thursday morning along with about six other people who had been surviving in Seven Hills after Mayor Bruce Harrell ordered the park to be cleared.
At its peak more than two dozen people had camped here for months. Some neighbors nearby reported tent fires and fights at the encampment. Havens thinks the city should have provided hygiene services for the park like a portapotty or hand washing station.
"If they wanted to make the problem a little bit better here for the neighborhood they could have provided these people with at least a toilet, you know? And that's not asking very much,” he said.
On Thursday Seattle Parks employees dismantled and threw away most tents, setting aside camp supplies that were claimed by the last few people there. Housing advocates and mutual aid groups helped move peoples’ belongings and gave out food, sleeping bags, and coffee.
The tent encampment at Seven Hills is one of the first to be removed by the new Harrell administration. Notices of camp clearings have also gone up this week at other parks around Seattle including in Pioneer Square.
The exact number isn’t clear but outreach workers who contract with the city say over the past many months they have referred most people who were living in Seven Hills to a temporary shelter.
Multiple people gathering their things Thursday morning said they had previously lived at encampments in Pioneer Square and near I-5, and might return there. At least two said they would find a spot behind the nearby Safeway.
As he swept up bits of trash and cigarette butts alongside Parks cews, Matt Havens said he’s excited about where he’s headed next. His new case manager told him he’s found Havens an apartment he can move into by the end of the month.
At first Havens was hesitant about working with a case manager, but now calls it a blessing.
“I was kind of ashamed in a way and I didn’t want to do it at first because I had never had to go and get help from a system before,” Havens said. “But this is the way it turned out and I’m very grateful for it.”