• Thu. Jun 23rd, 2022

Seattle cleans up Woodland Park homeless camp

ByDebra J. Aguilar

May 10, 2022

SEATTLE — Seattle Parks staff began dismantling more than 40 tents and structures in Woodland Park on Tuesday morning, capping months of raising awareness of the people who live there and tensions with neighbors and park-goers.

Just after 9 a.m., city staff cordoned off a section of the park with duct tape and began tearing down more than half a dozen tents and structures. The camp was located mostly at the northwest end of the park, near Aurora Avenue, but spread out into nooks and crannies out of sight. It had developed at the start of the pandemic, when the federal public health agency recommended that cities stop moving residents of homeless camps from one place to another.

The Woodland Park encampment, which is one of the largest remaining in a Seattle park, has been a top priority for Mayor Bruce Harrell. A campsite at Green Lake, at the north end of the park, was cleared about six months ago after neighbors and people who recreate in the park complained loudly that their access was limited by the growing number of tents and people living outside.

In recent months, social workers have traveled to Woodland Park in an attempt to move people to shelters or housing.

On Tuesday morning, rain poured over the camp as people began to pack their bags. Volunteers who said they were neighbors helped residents load trash bags full of their belongings into cars to transport them elsewhere. Two former park residents kissed before one of them got into a car.

While city crews worked, 10 police officers stood by, directing onlookers away from the deconstruction site. After the tents were lowered, two excavators began picking up the remains of people’s belongings and garbage to load into dump trucks.

This gave people living in other sections of the park more time to gather their tents and belongings before they were forced to move. At least 40 tents and seven motorhomes were spread across the park.

The mayor’s office says the city has moved most of the 61 park residents it identified in February to a small house, shelter or permanent supportive housing unless they’ve moved out. voluntarily the park.

The mayor’s office said additional people had moved into the park since February.