Friday, October 7, 2016

City of Seattle: It isn't rancid garbage if it was dumped in the vicinity of the homeless

For the past month or so, two shopping carts full of trash (old clothes, bags of human waste, and other assorted trash) have been strewn about the sidewalk which I use to get to work every day (photo). I thought that maybe the city could help, so I filed an illegal dumping report. To my chagrin, this is the response I get:Thank you for the report you forwarded to the Illegal dumping online request form. I apologize for delay. The request had to be rerouted to my department as unfortunately, the online request form for illegal dumping can only handle that issue. It is not considered illegal dumping if campers are living at or nearby the site and the garbage appears to be theirs. We are required to follow a specific protocol when dealing with unauthorized encampments. Therefore, once your report is routed to the right department, it is closed by the illegal dumping team. In the future, please use “Other Inquiry” to report encampments. Here, we enter your report into a database which alerts the responsible department of camping (Transportation for City right of way, private property owners, the State, County, Parks etc…). After ownership is determined the Human Services Department is alerted for possible outreach. For this reason it is extremely important that you are specific/exact about the physical location of the encampment (physical address with directional of street, hundred block, park name & location within park, on a side walk, greenbelt or alley & relationship to a nearby address/location. Ex… behind or north of address). Limited information about a site may result in delays for processing complaints. This site has been reported several times and I have added your report to the database. Typically the area would be posted with a 72 hour notice, cleaned and the camper asked to leave. Unfortunately, with certain individuals and certain sites, campers simply return after repeated clean-ups and are unwilling to go to a shelter. In addition, the number of encampments reported throughout the City with limited law enforcement has presented a challenge in getting sites cleaned up as often and quickly as we would like. The Mayor’s Office is very aware of the surge in homelessness and unauthorized encampments and has recently hired a new Director of Homelessness. With him, the City is looking at options for long term solutions which include a number of services such as but not limited to extended outreach, bus tickets to camper's home state, motel vouchers and referrals to appropriate services for mental health, medical and housing/shelter providers. Please know the city is continuing to look for strategies that we hope will get more campers off the streets faster and keep them housed more long term. I hope this information is helpful and thank you for contacting the City of Seattle.I understand that homelessness is a complex issue, but the fact that the city will not clean this up because their policy views this mess as "personal property" is absolutely bonkers. Do I have any options here, or am I just SOL? via /r/SeattleWA

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