To: Mayor Durkan, Seattle City Council, City Public Health Department, Seattle City Attorney, and Northwest Asian Weekly
Re: CB 119796 and homeless tent camps in the ID
As you know, there have been two homeless encampments in the Chinatown-International District (ID):
The encampment under the I-5 freeway on King Street and the encampment on South Weller Street from 12th Avenue South to Rainier Avenue South.
As our state remains on lockdown and struggles to protect the public against the coronavirus, it is unconscionable to allow the encampment to remain.
The camp, to my knowledge, does not receive testing or have access to sanitary preventions, such as clean water and soap for hand hygiene, not to mention other public sanitation amenities.
But remember, this area is not a City-sanctioned encampment. Instead, it has become sanctioned de facto by the City under the guise of the current pandemic.
This is ironic. We are in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic, yet the City uses the pandemic as an excuse not to act constructively and creatively, not to mention according to its responsibility to address the homeless problem.
Instead, the ID becomes the default location/choice by the City for its now failed social experiments, such as the South Weller Navigation Center and its added failure to support the unsheltered by failing to renew funding for tiny villages.
And now the City Council seeks to underfund its previously vaunted Navigation Team, the City’s directresponse to unsanctioned encampments.
The City must remove existing camps and prevent future illegal tent encampments from the ID.
The tent camps, among other public health and public safety hazards, are super spreaders of COVID-19, hot spots posing risks to the tent residents, the residents of the ID, city workers, and the general public.
It is a dereliction of duty to withhold funding for the already underfunded Navigation Center.
I submit that tent encampments should be removed because it:
A. Constitutes an active health threat (excluding the transmission of communicable diseases, including COVID-19 and its subsequent mutations) to occupants or the surrounding neighborhood, where
- Appropriate public health resources have first been provided to address the conditions of concern;
The services provided in A.1 of this proviso did not resolve the health threat; and
“Based upon guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), funding cannot be used to remove or relocate an unsanctioned encampment except in limited circumstances in order to prevent transmission of COVID-19 throughout the general population and avoid increasing risks for people experiencing homelessness.”
The threshold of “the transmission of communicable diseases, including COVID-19 and its subsequent mutations) to occupants or the surrounding neighborhood” and the exception of the prevention of “…transmission of COVID-19 throughout the general population and avoid increasing risks for people experiencing homelessness” have been more than met.
The unsanctioned tent camps are a COVID-19 threat to the residents of the camps and the ID community. They must be removed. ν
— Patricia Fong