Olympia tent city cleared, homeless move to other sites

VIDEO: City of Olympia clears out it's unregulated downtown homeless camp

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The fenced-off site that sits off Olympia Avenue NE is drastically different than a week ago.

Fires are out, trash is cleared, tents are gone and so are the people who lived inside them.

Tommy Sanchez stays in the mitigation site across from the former unregulated downtown lot. He said he’s already noticed a difference.

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“People don’t have to worry about being attacked, raped, robbed, stolen, beat up for anything. They’re just a lot more safer out here,” he said.

The city of Olympia held off clearing the camp for six months because of legal issues. Two weeks ago, they gave the 40-plus people who lived there a six-day heads up.

“There were places offered, options offered, safe options offered for everyone who was there,” said Olympia Strategic Communication Director Kellie Purce Braseth.

March 5 crews came in and cleared it out.

“There were a lot of tents, a lot of garbage, a lot of chaos, so I think it just has a calmer feel,” said Purce Braseth.

City officials said about 20 people went to the mitigation site, but they’re not sure about the two dozen or so others. People who live downtown said many joined other unregulated camps all over town.

“Some went to Wheeler, some went to the trails, some went to the jungle,” said Sanchez.

KIRO 7 went to the jungle and spoke with workers at THC of Olympia, which is a business that sits in front of the camp.

“It’s probably grown tenfold since we’ve been here. It’s a lot bigger, it’s a lot more visible, there’s multistory structures back that you can see, which is a new level of a camp,” said Victoria Dittmer, THC of Olympia manager.

City officials said the fence that blocks off the downtown lot will be in place until early April. The city places to open the parking lot back up after that.