Neighbors raise safety concerns as homeless camp grows at Capitol Hill park

SEATTLE — Weeks after a massive homeless camp at Cal Anderson Park was cleared, another camp growing nearby has neighbors raising safety concerns.

People who live near Miller Park said they are deeply worried. It is not just neighbors, but a soccer organization is refusing to play there because of possible violence.

The Seattle Youth Soccer Association said it is not worth having players bypass all the tents and possibly come under attack from people who have set up camp.

Michael Roland, who lives near the park had this to say about the homeless camp: “Break-ins every night, needles on the ground. We’ve had five locks put on the porta potty; broken doors booted in.”

Roland insists he’s sympathetic toward people struggling with homelessness, but said the people living at the park are often up to no good.

“When Cal Anderson Park got cleared out a couple weeks ago, seem(s) like overnight the tents tripled, and then the next day quadrupled,” Roland said.

Roland said the people living at the park are often violent toward anyone who steps foot inside Miller Park.

Last week KIRO 7 experienced this hostility firsthand when a homeless man charged at one of our crews. And days later, Roland said the situation has only gotten worse.

“To get them dispersed or to clear them, SPD told me just a couple days ago that their only option is to wait for something more violent to happen before they can get that order signed. So, I just don’t understand the logic in waiting for a murder,” said Roland.

According to neighbors KIRO 7 spoke with, a big reason why the encampment has arisen is because the city’s Navigation Team was eliminated by the City Council last year.

As a result, neighbors said the people in charge of enforcing the rules within Seattle’s parks are largely no longer on the payroll.

However, KIRO 7 learned that things could soon get better because Seattle City Council just gave money to the so-called HOPE team, which comprises of eight people with the mission of visiting encampments to help people find shelter.

Since the program started in October, the city said nearly two dozen people have permanently gotten off the streets.

The city believes the HOPE team will have more success in helping people find shelter because 80% of those who have had referrals are now off the streets.