Belltown ‘tent mansion' and homeless camp being cleared

VIDEO: Seattle Center homeless encampment cleared

SEATTLE — A highly visible tent encampment in Belltown near the Space Needle is in the process of being cleared out Tuesday.

The encampment at Third and Broad has been in place since April. Officers, a garbage truck and members of the city's navigation team were on the block late Tuesday morning.

A structure, complete with glass French doors connected to wooden-pallet walls, surrounding their interior furniture, could be easily seen by Seattle tourists heading up and down the Space Needle elevators.

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Passers-by dubbed it the "Tent Mansion."

A number of other tents dot the sidewalk on Third between Broad an Clay. Most days, a few homeless occupants of the block could be seen sitting on a couch as if it was in a living room.

The encampment has been a lightning rod that’s brought even more attention to the city's homeless crisis.

KIRO 7 first met Melissa Burns and her husband in April.

The couple told us they rejected offers to live in shelters since they didn't want to follow the requirements to stay there.

"We're not going to cower in our tent like we're scared of the world," Burns said. "We're going to come out and live and we're going to help other people, because we feed other homeless people with food bank food, and we plan to set these up all over town.”

The city told us about 37 percent of people they encounter reject similar offers.

But after refusing earlier offers of help, last week, Burns and her husband received tickets for flights back to Kansas to be with family. They no longer live on the block in Belltown.

The city of Seattle told KIRO 7 they've gotten complaints about 400 unsanctioned homeless encampments. They say their outreach teams are stretched so thin they average removing only two to three per week.

As the cleanup on the block continues, the homeless collect their belongings as the rest is discarded.

It was not immediately known where they will go next.

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