SEATTLE — Dozens of people were told by the city of Seattle to leave a series of homeless camps near the intersection of 1st Ave. S and SW Kenyon in Seattle early Friday morning. It was the latest in a series of sweeps being done by the city as it tries to tackle the homeless crisis.
KIRO 7 was on the scene when the response began around 9 a.m. Friday, where city officials, public works crews, private contractors and Seattle police were on hand to manage the effort. The crews concentrated on stretch of 1st Ave. S near Kenyon but also went up into a nearby wooded area on a hill at the end of Kenyon.
That’s where our crews caught up with Dawn Moreno, who was sitting on the street after leaving the hillside, she was sobbing when she talked about this latest order by the city to leave.
“Six times they've moved me out of a bush … there's nowhere to go,” she said.
Moreno said the hill has been her home and crews told her to leave, there were few alternatives.
“Outreach comes to tell us we don't have food water or shelter, then what are you doing here then?” she said.
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She said she lasted on the land for three months with her spouse and all their gear, which included a large tent, a few crates and several sacks and backpacks. She said the sweeps by Seattle have become a way of life.
“They were just five feet from me, just tearing down our little structures. There's no help,” she said.
Moreno and dozens of other people are trying to find a new place to stay. Officials tried to move people off the surrounding streets also, and a spokesperson for Seattle's homeless navigation team said this latest effort as due to garbage and waste piling up. A homeless woman who would only identify herself as Gloria agreed that was one of the main reasons she was being forced out.
“I keep telling people, clean up your garbage. If you brought it in, take it out; they don't do it. We wouldn’t be moving right now if people would have cleaned up their area,” Gloria said.
Officials were also concerned about the roadway on 1st Ave S. It’s got significant traffic and many of the homeless campers were occupying the shoulder of the roadway which was narrow.
Tina Lewis, with the Salvation Army, came to the response effort to offer people services. She said this sweep was on the city's calendar and was her first.
“I understand that a lot of times, these cars are all they have left from the past. Everything they own is inside them, so they don't want to give up those things,” Lewis said.
Cleanup crews stood ready to take care of the mess that was left behind. It's part of an ongoing effort to connect the unsheltered with services.
In 2018, Seattle estimates it's contacted 2,275 people but did not say how many have accepted help.
Moreno said help seems very far off.
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