User-generated homeless map helps illustrate scope of Seattle's homeless crisis

User-generated homeless map helps illustrate scope of Seattle's homeless crisis

FILE: Workers dismantle a shelter at a large homeless encampment known as "The Field," Tuesday, March 7, 2017, in Seattle's Stadium district south of downtown. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Note: Our website and series of stories about creating a map of homeless encampments has generated significant and warranted conversation in Seattle and on social media.

The data shows just how widespread the homeless encampment problem is across the city.

After spending hours talking to outside experts, we are updating the map to focus on more generic areas instead of specific locations.

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Also, the Mayor’s Office has told us that the City does actually have maps showing the locations of the encampments, an important detail they would not previously disclose.  We also provided all of the data sent to KIRO 7 to the Mayor’s Office, as we said we would. The city assured us its maps had the same locations and they are aware of all of them.

Because of the map on kiro7.com, we have now obtained previously unpublicized documents regarding the encampments.  We will use those documents to create stories about how the City spends money on the homeless crisis.

We want to thank the community for its response and we hope our reporting continues to generate conversation over this important issue.

Initial story: Seattle's mayor has declared an emergency in the city because of the homeless issue. Tips from SeattleHomelessCamps.com reveal people living near the city's professional sports stadiums, the Pike Place Market, the Ballard Locks and on busy bike and pedestrian trails all over the city, as well as hidden in greenbelt space near some of the most expensive real estate in Seattle.

KIRO 7's cameras saw the same thing on Wednesday.

Lisa Mudgett of Ballard said there are “pockets” of tents “everywhere, on the way down to Golden Gardens and under the Ballard Bridge.”

The encampment under the Ballard Bridge was scheduled to be cleared by the City of Seattle nearly two weeks ago, but it's still home to dozens of people living in tents, campers and vehicles.

Mudgett is skeptical about Seattle’s strategy to clear encampments that don’t get as much attention as The Jungle, The Field and other better-known encampments.

“It sounds like every time they come and clear it out, it’s only a matter of days before the camps are back up again,” she told KIRO 7.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray revealed more details about his plan to combat homelessness and was asked how the city responds when campers refuse to leave -- or come back to a cleared encampment.

"We move them out of the area they're in," Mayor Murray responded. "We offer them housing, we offer people shelter and we offer people a chance to make a decision to leave on their own, and as people don't do that, then we move them out."

However, that hasn’t worked beneath the Ballard Bridge.

A 66-year-old recovered heroin addict told KIRO 7 that also hasn’t worked near his home in Ballard.

The man didn’t want to be identified for fear of backlash, but said “take this place here at the Locks. They came in about 10 days ago to clean this out and they stopped about halfway. They did clean out a lot of the garbage, but they kept the campers here.”

When KIRO 7 asked his thoughts about what should happen to people who refuse to leave a cleared encampment, he said, “Lock them up. If they’re breaking the law, lock them up. My empathy is waning.”