By a narrow majority, the Seattle City Council Monday rejected a proposal to expand locations for homeless tent encampments in the city and provide a regulatory framework for the health and safety of residents.
Over the pleas of some homeless people and their advocates, five council members voted down a proposal by Councilmember Nick Licata that would have added city and private land to areas where a tent encampment could be located. Currently, only faith communities are allowed to host tent encampments.
Councilmembers Tim Burgess, Sally Clark, Richard Conlin, Jean Godden and Tom Rasmussen all voted no, saying tents didn’t provide an acceptable alternative to permanent housing. They noted that the city invests $30 million to $40 million a year to provide homeless services, including emergency shelters.
The most immediate question now is what happens to Nickelsville, the illegal tent encampment on West Marginal Way. In June, the council voted to shut down the trouble-plagued encampment Sept. 1.
The council also approved $500,000 to provide relocation services to residents. Since then, the number of residents has risen as homeless people hear about the funding and seek help finding housing.
A motion by Licata to put off Monday’s vote until a report on relocation efforts at Nickelsville was completed also failed.