I am writing in response and in solidarity with the many cosigners of a letter to Mayor Ed Murray in the April 30-May 6 issue of Northwest Asian Weekly. The cosigners urged the mayor to pay attention to a severe public safety and public health issue in the Chinatown ID: that of illegal homeless camps, especially under I-5 on Jackson and Maynard. These have been present for quite sometime now. They are accumulating large piles of garbage. I have seen people relieving themselves in the daytime on the sidewalk. I used to walk along Jackson even at night before the streetcar, and before these campers, but I don’t feel comfortable doing so anymore.
This is bad for the ID as a business community, as a residential community, as a tourist attraction, as a historical community of immigrants, of many different ethnicities and races. It reinforces the stereotype of Chinatown-ID as ‘dirty’ and a skid row community, a voiceless, powerless community where things like this don’t matter because people don’t care or don’t know how to.
After Donnie Chin was murdered, the mayor convened a task force on Dec. 15, 2015.
Furthermore, his deputy mayor is Hyeok Kim, who was the executive director since 2008, of the Interim Community Development Association, a Chinatown International District nonprofit and formerly homeless by her own admission. Where is she in helping to address the current problem?
I am writing to add my voice to those who wrote about this problem. I have already asked Councilmember Kshama Sawant (her aide) to look into this problem and I have been speaking to Liz Kain of Solid Waste, along with the Seattle Department of Transportation.
I call on the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority, International District Emergency Center, or the Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area to sign onto this to call for attention by the mayor and the city. Where are other voices, including the chambers of commerce of Chinatown, Little Saigon, and Japantown?
I feel that the city and the mayor, after promising to work with the ID, has by default allowed the neighborhood to become a defacto homeless camp on the public right of way. I do not think this would be allowed in neighborhoods like Leschi, Laurelhurst, or Wallingford.
I am asking the mayor to honor his commitment to the ID, and his deputy mayor to remember her roots in the community and advocate for them. Step up to the problems and solutions asked for by the co-signers of the letter you published in April/May.
— Patty Fong