• One block away from Lake City homeless camp cleanup, more encampments flourish

    By: Rob Munoz

    Updated:

    SEATTLE - The first thing you hear as you approach an encampment site covered with a tarp near an old Value Village off Seattle’s Lake City Way is the strumming of a guitar.

    KIRO 7 met a man who goes by “Tarantula,” and says this way of living is one he calls his own.

    “Some of us don’t need help. Some of us love living in walls and houses, some of us like sleeping under the stars and the sun,” he says.

    On Monday, just a block away, the City of Seattle’s recently expanded Homeless Navigation Team cleaned up a site where neighbor complaints of trash and break-ins kept coming in.

    “Tarantula” knew some of them, said several of them moved not far away but didn’t say where.

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    A KIRO 7 crew noticed some of the carts with his encampment were strikingly similar to the ones at the cleanup.

    “They can just keep kicking us out, and we’ll keep coming back and we can keep duking this out,” “Tarantula” says, “Or they could just let us do what we do.”

    At the time, Meg Olberding with the city’s Human Services Department told us the cleanup on Monday happened after a fire consumed the site, and threatened a nearby LA Fitness gym.

    Of the six people they initially came into contact with, only two of them accepted assistance of shelter.

    "At this point, we worked with the people that lived here and we thought that the debris around here was significant enough that we needed to get out here,” Olberding told us.

    When we contacted the city again about the numerous encampments just a street over from Monday’s cleanup site, Olberding says the department’s policy is to tackle the encampments on a case-by-case and priority basis.

    For now, the encampments are attracting people, and as our crew witnessed, cars and people streamed in and out of the site, seemingly unfettered.

    “Yeah, they move from spot to spot. It’s bad when they do it in residential areas because it brings the value down, people come here for a place to live,” Ron Whithrow, a neighbor, told us.

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