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Coalition to 'camp-in' at Seattle City Hall over the homelessness crisis

caption: A homeless encampment in Seattle's Rainier Valley, taken March 2016.
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A homeless encampment in Seattle's Rainier Valley, taken March 2016.
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

People from several Seattle organizations plan to camp at Seattle City Hall Wednesday night. They plan to roll out sleeping bags and blankets on the outside plaza and inside the City Hall doors.

The coalition Housing For all is calling attention to Seattle's homeless crisis. November 2 marks the two year anniversary of city officials declaring a state of emergency on homelessness, but thousands of people still sleep outside each night.

Housing For All and other groups will hold a rally at 4 p.m., then pitch tents later in the evening.

Coalition member Katie Wilson, who is also general secretary for Transit Riders Union, said she feels the city hasn't done enough to help the homeless population.

Wilson: "You know that's wrong, so we're going to be holding that inside space in City Hall to basically send a message that everyone needs a warm safe space inside, and so we challenge the city to kick us out into the cold."

The demonstrators are calling for more spending on shelters, and a limit on homeless encampment sweeps. They want homeless sweeps to be scaled back, so that only hazardous encampments are evicted.

So far, three City Council members support adding those provisions to the 2018 city budget. At least one of them, Kshama Sawant, plans to camp out.

But Mayor Tim Burgess wants to continue homeless camp sweeps and has proposed more money for that work in the 2018 budget.

Burgess: "I think our removal and cleanup operation is actually extremely effective. We have 40 percent of the people living in these encampments accepting city services now, that's way more than even last year."

The public has a chance to weigh in Wednesday. The demonstrations happen at the same time as a City Council hearing on the 2018 budget.

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