Seattle Approves Funding for New “Homeless Camps”
The City council this week authorized funding for the creation of at least three "transitional" camps for homeless people; which can be located on city property, private land, or grounds owned by educational major institutions.
Spearheaded by Councilman Mike O'Brien, the camps must provide what are called operational plans including management and maintenance, human and social services, and public health and safety standards.
The camps must be on lots at least 5,000 square feet, within one-half mile of a transit (bus) stop, and cannot be located on any city park lands. One-year permits will be granted for the three camps.
O'Brien and other supporters say it's not a long-term solution, but will provide some help for the estimated 2,813 homeless people said to be living on the streets all the time. The city has allocated nearly $400,000 towards the camps.
Currently, such camps are only authorized by temporary six-month permits, or if the site is controlled or owned by a religious organization.
Last fall, some members of the Council, including controversial socialist Ksharma Sawant, wanted the city to provide internet access at such homeless camps, saying internet is no longer considered luxury. But her ideas were quickly shot down.
The city says such managed camps are better than having to constantly spend money "relocating" homeless people who pitch tents and other shelters in city parks and other areas - often drawing complaints from citizens, and drawing police presence due to disruptive behavior and panhandling.