Neighbors worried Licton Springs tiny house encampment brings more crime

VIDEO: City of Seattle to decide whether to renew Licton Springs tiny village encampment

The city of Seattle could decide in the next few days whether to renew the tiny village encampment in Licton Springs.

People have been living in the village at North Aurora Avenue and 87th Street for a year now. But neighbors say after it opened, they noticed an increase in crime.

It opened in April of 2017 and has 29 houses and between 50 to 60 residents.

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“I think it’s actually reduced to a certain extent the homelessness in north Seattle,” said Josh Castle, a director at the Low Income Housing Institute (LiHi). “Fifty percent of the people living here were on the streets right in north Seattle,” he said.

LiHi is contracted through Seattle to run the city’s six sanctioned encampments. The one in Licton Springs is the first “low barrier” tiny-house encampment, where people don’t need to be clean or sober to live there.

People who live in the neighborhood say the encampment has made the area less safe

“Drug dealers or prostitution, it’s definitely been a full-on increase,” said Eddie King, who lives a few blocks away from the encampment.

"It wasn't like that before -- there's always been issues down through here along Aurora, but not to this extent," he said. 
KIRO7 talked with six neighbors in the area who had similar stories. (Two others said they did not notice an uptick.)

Several businesses next to the village had the same complaint.

“Aurora Rents” shared with KIRO7 several videos portraying what they believe are drug deals happening on their property.

KIRO7 looked through neighborhood data from the Seattle Police Department. Currently, numbers are only available for the entire  "Northgate" area.

It shows larceny and theft cases reached an all-time high in 2017.

The same goes for “person crimes” which include assault and robbery.

But those crimes have been rising over the past decade and right now there's no data tool to sort for the Licton Springs – an area between Northgate Avenue and 85th, and 99 and I-5.

The Seattle Police Department says it’s heard about neighbors’ concerns and tells KIRO7 its data team is working on filtering crimes just for Licton Springs, to learn more about the impact of this encampment.

LiHi also says it’s also listening to neighbors.

“We want to acknowledge those concerns are valid and we want to continue to address those the best we can,” Castle said.

Castle says 300 people have been placed into permanent housing from tiny villages -- nearly 20 from the Licton Springs location.

“It’s an interim solution but it works,” he said.

More tiny house encampments are coming to Seattle.

There are 250 tiny houses now in the city now but LiHi says there will likely will be one in every neighborhood with Mayor Jenny Durkan’s campaign pledge to bring 1,000 tiny houses to Seattle.

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