I chatted with George Scarola, Seattle’s Director of Homelessness, this past Friday to get some additional details about Nickelsville’s imminent move to Wallingford.
First important note is that the while Nickelsville’s Ballard lease expires on November 17th, the city will be extending it until mid-December to give themselves time to raze the City Light-owned building at the Wallingford location and otherwise prepare for the move. That includes setting up electricity and water service, two things that the Ballard site lacked (instead, they had to rely on a noisy, unreliable generator and a 600 gallon water tank.)
“We’re trying to step up our game with the new site,” George said. “They’re still primarily tiny houses, not up to code, but LIHI [the Low Income Housing Institute, operators of Nickelsvile] and the city are putting more work into making them livable. And there are also a set of tents within tents: large canvas tents on platforms, with individual tents set up within. It keeps them warmer and drier.”
I was curious in particular about the Community Advisory Council, or CAC, and how that would be formed.
“The CAC is a go between between community and camp,” George explained. “It’s up to the camp operator to decide who goes on committee, but they’ll be looking for people who will be constructive, can bring in resources. Obviously, they don’t want people who are hostile the camp, but they do want people who can ask hard questions. They will consult with the LIHI and the city, but I would expect to see someone from the faith community, the Wallingford Community Council, the [nearby] John Stanford School, and someone who can represent the residents of the Wallingford neighborhood.
“Again, they’ll consult with the City and LIHI, but the camp operators make the decisions. They’ll have applications available within a couple of couple of weeks of their opening, hopefully in December or early January.”
Just as Nickelsville’s Ballard lease was for one year, with the expectation that it would be extended to two, Wallingford should expect to host the homeless camp through the end of 2019.
The City of Seattle will be holding a community meeting on Tuesday, November 28th to discuss the relocation from 6:30 – 8:00 PM at the UW Fisheries Building (1122 NE Boat Street) – Auditorium 102. City officials and representatives of the LIHI will be on hand to answer questions.
The flier contains the following FAQ:
How was this property selected? The City completed an assessment of available properties to identify those that were suitable and geographically distributed across the city. The sites had to meet the requirements of the existing encampment ordinance, including location in non-residential zones, proximity to transit, and minimum lot size of 5,000 square feet, among other criteria. Northlake property is owned by Seattle City Light, has the physical capacity to support an encampment community, is close to public transit, and located in a non-residential zone.
How long does the permitted encampment stay in one place? Permitted encampments can operate for 12- months with an option for an additional 12-month extension. Each site must be vacant for one year between use. The City is currently hosting six permitted encampments in Othello, Ballard, West Seattle, Interbay, Georgetown and North Seattle for 300 people on any given night. The Northlake site will host the Nickelsville encampment community that has been located in the Ballard neighborhood for two years.
What is the timeline for this project? We expect to have the residents move onto the property during the month of December 2017.
Who do I call if I have a question or concern? While the Northlake site is being planned, please contact George Scarola, Director of Homelessness ([email protected]). Once the encampment is opened, the community should contact the operator directly. The contact information will be shared at the community meetings.
Who makes up the rules for each encampment? The Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) is contracted to operate the permitted encampments, and they selected Nickelsville to oversee the day-to-day management of the program. The encampment is governed by a set of rules and a Code of Conduct , developed by Nickeslville, which each resident must read, sign and agree to abide by. This will be an alcohol and drug free encampment. The Code of Conduct for each site is posted on the www.seattle.gov/homelessness web site.
What oversight will be provided at the encampment? LIHI and Nickelsville are responsible for safety and security within the camp. Residents are screened for acceptance and must follow camp rules to stay. Banned residents will not be allowed to return to camp or to illegally camp in proximity to the City-owned sites. Residents have access to necessary services like case management and medical treatment to help them transition out of homelessness into permanent housing.
What happens if there is a problem at the camp? Two security workers (members of the camp) are on duty at the front desk 24/7, for three-hour shifts. Security workers monitor activities in the camp and respond to inquiries from both residents and interested community members. They also perform scheduled perimeter checks, neighborhood patrols and trash cleanups.
How can I help? Neighbors and businesses have generously supported other managed encampments in the City through donations of food and clothing. The camp operator will share information at the community meeting about how best to get involved.
The Camp will also establish an on-going Community Advisory Committee (CAC) that will provide input on encampment operations. Members of the CAC will include the operator, business and community members and encampment residents. The Committee meets monthly and meeting notes are posted on the City of Seattle’s Homeless Response website.