Car camper Jennifer Smith prepares for her move to a woman's shelter. She's one of several homeless men and women who were asked to leave the area near Gasworks Park.  Her RV will be parked safely in a church parking lot in Lake City. 
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Car camper Jennifer Smith prepares for her move to a woman's shelter. She's one of several homeless men and women who were asked to leave the area near Gasworks Park. Her RV will be parked safely in a church parking lot in Lake City.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Seattle Offers Help Before Rousting Car Campers Near Gas Works Park

Danny Fletcher lives in a motor home on North Northlake Way near Gas Works Park. He says he feels safer in that than he does sleeping in a shelter.

“It’s more comfy, I have a bedroom, I’ve got a kitchen, I have a living room, and it’s all separate rooms," Fletcher said. "It’s an actual house for me, you know?”

But neighbors have been complaining about campers like this.

In response, the city has given overnight campers through Thursday to move. But it offered help first.

It sent in social workers like Compass Housing Alliance’s Frank Scarabino to help the campers transition to more stable housing.

Scarabino said they think of their vehicles as life rafts on a rough ocean.

“What we are asking the people in the vehicles to do is to jump in the water – sink the raft and trust us and swim to shore," he said. "Give that security up for something that we may think is better for something that they're not sure is better. That’s asking a lot of any person.”Fletcher says he’s not ready to give up his motor home. But Scarabino had more luck persuading Jennifer Smith, who was camping next door to Fletcher.She’s moving plastic crates full of clothes into the social worker’s car. “I’m going to Mary’s place. The women’s shelter,” she said.She was aware of the deadline.“They’ve given us until the 30th to move so I’ve been sort of pressured in time to find a place to go,” she said.The outreach effort found her the shelter spot. “Yes, they actually reserved the room for me so I could move in, today’s the day," she said. "And I am a little nervous.”Smith will get to hang on to her RV. While she’s at the shelter, it’ll be parked safely in a church parking lot up in Lake City. Correction 7/30/2015: An earlier version of this story said the campers had through Wednesday to move. They have through Thursday, 7/30/15.