Broken promises and mismanagement leading up to Field eviction

Inadequate shelter

In an e-mail to city council members, Scott Lindsay, Mayor Ed Murray’s (unelected) public safety advisor made two promises:

UGM has capacity to offer shelter beds to all of the approximately 50 people residing at the encampment, and the City is working with other shelter and service providers to make alternative shelter available.

At the Field of Dreams today, March 3rd, at 8:00AM I personally counted 75 tents. A conservative estimate would put the number of residents at at least 75. Many tents are home to multiple residents. 50 shelter beds is not sufficient.

Mismanagement of storage

Also, Lindsay promised:

REACH and other outreach providers also have clients at the encampment that they are working with.  This outreach work will continue up to and after the March 7 closure of the site with the goal of moving as many people as possible into safer alternative shelter or housing.  The City will also be offering people living at the encampment the opportunity to store personal belongings for up to 60 days.

 

(A copy of the Lindsay e-mail is available here: https://www.facebook.com/STSSeattle/posts/1852043218405815:0; his phone number is 206.615.1169 if you have any questions for him)

Seattle city employees posted notices around camp, which lists a number for a City Navigation Team, which residents may call in order to work out storage of personal belonginigs:

I phoned the number posted at 10:20AM today, March 3rd, four days before the scheduled eviction. It goes to City of Seattle’s customer service line. Below is an account of my conversation with the people on the City end of the line:

Me: Hello, I’m calling about storing my personal items from the Field?

Receptionist: I should have information about that. I have several phone numbers for people from the Department of Transportation, Kenny, for people’s belongings after they clear the encampment. You can call these numbers after the camp is cleared to retrieve items.

Me: this number is posted at the Field for when people would like to store items before the sweep.

Receptionist: OK, let me transfer you to one of our investigators.

Cheryl: Hello, this is Cheryl.

Me: Hello, I’m calling about storing my personal belongings from the Field? an investigator.

Cheryl: When you say the Field, what are you talking about?

Me: It’s on Airport Way and Royal Brougham

Cheryl: So they call it the Field?

Me: The city calls it the Field

Cheryl: That is the site that is set to be cleared on March 7th. I will have to check on that, I didn’t know about storing belongings, that might be something new. Let me get your number and call you back.

What, me worry?

Does the city’s storage policy depend on residents, most of which do not have cell phones or access to charging stations, calling city employees who know nothing about the city’s plans to store their belongings?

According to the Mayor, the answer is no. In a report from October concerning Director’s rules for sweeping camp sites, the new rules will “Require the City to deliver materials it stores from encampments to their owners.” (http://www.seattle.gov/finance-and-administrative-services/directors-rules)

This previous message was not the one reaching residents at the Field, where I saw stickers plastered on the 75 tents I counted, which read: “Items On Site 3-7-17 Will Be Discarded.”

 

I guess residents will have to count on “discarded” being a Seattle-city code meaning, “We will store and deliver these items to you”, just like “Navigation Team” means Seattle Customer Service desk…

 

Update

At 11:30AM (still 3/3/2017), received a call back from Seattle Customer Service rep Cheryl:

@11:30

Cheryl: are you near the notice and can read it to me? Is it items that can be taken when the site is cleaned?

Me: yes, hold on [reads posting]

Cheryl: OK, it does say that; I’m not sure if that’s the site where things will be taken, I’ll have to check into that and call you back. Thanks again.

Me: OK, bye.

2 Comments

  1. David B.

    Thank you for doing this investigation! Sad to learn the City’s assurances are false. The ACLU would probably be interested in this! It seems like evidence of bad faith.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *