Yesterday, I posted—and the mayor confirmed—that a permanent homeless encampment is slated for the old Sunny Jim Peanut Butter factory, located at Airport Way South and South Snoqualmie Street, hopefully in March.
This is a great long-term development, but the short-term reality is that Nickelsville must leave its current location in the University District this Sunday, and according to Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith, the city has no place to put them. "We have no defined plan for what to do with Nickelsville until then," Smith said when reached by phone this morning. "There aren’t a lot of great choices but we're making a few phone calls to see if we could turn something up."
This is a rather specious argument considering city officials gave a mayor-selected review panel a list of seven viable locations to place a homeless camp just last month (nevermind that the mayor went with another site entirely; Nickelsville residents assure me they're not picky). And the panel not only recommended several sites on the list, but advised that the city move the camp before winter weather sets in. Here's what's really going on: the mayor's office doesn't want to piss off residents in any of these neighborhoods by suddenly plunking a homeless encampment down in their midst without months of outreach, hand-holding, fasting, etc. Now they're willing to ignore a panel they hand assembled—and a good portion of the recommendations it made—to avoid controversy.
So Nickelsville residents are holding a press conference this Thursday at 10:00 a.m. at the Greater Mt. Baker Missionary Baptist Church on 25th Avenue and Jackson Street to pressure the mayor into giving them a temporary site—or deal with the consequences of them selecting their own site. A press release sent by Nickelsville today reads "... we can't wait 6 months through winter for approval and development of this idea. Nickelsville's self-organized, proven, safe shelter community needs a site right now. Nickelsville is moving to a permanent site this Sunday 11/14, regardless."
I've been told that the camp has several sites in mind but won't reveal where they're going until Sunday because they'll most likely be relocating onto a piece of land without consent.
I hope it doesn't rain on moving day.