Cleanup of half-mile stretch of homeless encampments underway in Olympia

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Crews are cleaning up a half-mile stretch of homeless encampments in Olympia.

Over the next few days, people will hear excavators and others on foot with rakes in hand on Deschutes Parkway trying to clear garbage.

Marathon Park walkers told KIRO 7 they are optimistic the city’s $24,000 cleanup effort will do some good.

People living at the encampments are not being asked to leave or even take down their tents, as crews are just looking to clean up the garbage.

“(There has been) just a lot of trash, and there’s been times when you have to stop traffic because people are fighting in the middle of the street,” said Sarah Elgin of Olympia.

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The city stated it is doing the cleanup because of environmental and safety reasons. KIRO 7 was told that as many as 70 people reside along Deschutes Parkway and, recently, rats have become an issue.

“I doubt that people there are comfortable being there with all the debris that’s around there,” Espen Shackelford said.

Cleaners clad in personal protective equipment are going section by section, marking off areas with pink tape to protect personal belongings.

A tent was also set up to give those living at the encampments coffee.

The city contracted the workers through Advance Environmental, an area company experienced with cleaning up camps.

KIRO 7 asked passersby if the cleanup was a better alternative than removing a half-mile row of tents.

Elgin said, “Being someone who goes past here, I know there are some campers there that actually do try.”

“We’ll see, I’ll give them a chance (to) clean it up. It’s better than doing nothing,” she added.

The city of Olympia told KIRO 7 it plans to keep the efforts going through Thursday and even Friday, if necessary.

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