Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Maybe Start a Betting Pool?

Who is going to blink first - Mayor Jenny Durkin or Board President Chandra Hampson? 

I ask because the homeless situation in Seattle seems to be escalating so what of the homeless encampment at Broadview-Thomson K-8?

- A woman was attacked at Carkeek Park by a man with a knife about a week ago and managed to flee. Police found the man who said he lived in a homeless encampment nearby and was coming down off using meth.

- On Monday, a homeless man was shot and killed outside his tent at the encampment at Cowen Park (which is very close to Roosevelt High). 

Now none of this happened at the Broadview-Thomson encampment but there are many examples of issues that have happened at that encampment.

(To state - I do not think homeless people are necessarily criminals. But I think when you have people in more or less desperate situations and who may have mental health problems because of variety of issues, there might be better places for them to be than next to an elementary school.)

What we have heard from Board members Chandra Hampson, Liza Rankin and Zachary DeWolf is a “demand” for the City not to sweep this encampment until there are homes for its residents. Hampson said she wanted SPS to be “an institution” that acts as it speaks. That’s great but what is their solution? Crickets.

And what about the silence from Superintendent Brent Jones? What is the district’s stand?

Meanwhile, school will be ending soon. And summer typically has more crime than other times in the year. Does anyone at SPS think this encampment will shrink? 

Here’s the latest from Durkan via Publicola (bold mine):

At a press conference on federal recovery funding last Thursday, Mayor Jenny Durkan was asked what she plans to do about the encampment on school district property near Broadview Thomson K-8. 

Durkan spun the question on its head: Since the tents are on school district property, she said, it’s up to the school district to not only remove the encampment and store people’s tents and property but to “stand up their own process” similar to the city’s for doing outreach and connecting people to services, housing, and shelter. 

“We’re working with them so that they can stand up their own process, and I hope that they are able to take that approach,” Durkan said. “I think that if they follow what we’ve been able to do in many places using city properties and city resources, that you can do very compassionate-based outreach and you can also move any encampment that has a particular public health or safety risk.”
Durkan has refused to provide city assistance, outreach, trash cleanup, or other resources to the encampment on the grounds that it is on school district property, not the city’s. 

The school district property is directly next to a Seattle Parks property where other people also live in tents. Staying on the other side of this invisible line has protected encampment residents from city-led sweeps, but it has also meant that the city has refused to help the people living there. The city’s HOPE team (formerly the Navigation Team) has exclusive access to a large percentage of the city’s limited number of enhanced shelter beds and hotel rooms, which they offer to residents of encampments the city is about to sweep.

The mayor noted, without using his name, that former Seattle Finance and Administrative Services director Fred Podesta—who helped establish the city’s rules for removing encampments—is now head of operations at the school district, and suggested that the district, as a “a billion-dollar organization with funds and resources,” ought to be able provide the same kind of services as the city and remove the encampment.

 school district needs to step up, and we are there to help and assist them, but they cannot shirk their obligations and duties for school properties,” Durkan said.

Of course, the purpose of the school district’s billion-dollar budget is to educate the city’s 54,000 public school students, not to pay for human services or encampment sweeps.

No kidding to that last statement. It’s not serious talk to believe that somehow the district would be able to do this on their own. 

But with both sides fairly entrenched (and Durkan the lamest of lame ducks so why should she care?), what is the answer for both the school and the neighborhood? 


Adjuster said...

When will the district's insurance carrier step in and ask for an increase in premiums to cover the risks of allowing transients to camp on the property? Does the district's insurance cover damages or losses caused by or related to the encampment?

What if the campers cause a fire that goes to adjacent structures? Cause an injury? Is there insurance coverage for that?

What about theft or damage to the school building itself? Coverage for that? What if it is the result of campers entering the building.

Welcome Home said...

I'm not getting a sense of urgency from Hampson or Jones. Hampson says dealing with homeless is a new issue and they haven't voted on anything. Jones says they are still "Working the issue." Converation begins around minute 21.


seattle citizen said...

Durkan wants SPS to provide resources for the city's houseless?!(Beyond educating children and supporting houseless children's families, which the district does to some degree in various ways.)
Really? Durkan wants SPS to spend its budget doing the city's job?

I understand that SPS's stand on not sweeping these houseless off school property complicates the issue but SPS isn't in the business of providing for the general welfare of the people of this city who aren't city kids or their families.

Anonymous said...

@seattle citizen, you are right, so it didn’t help to have Hampson charge out of the gates with her “demands” to the City on Twitter to move the encampments *their* way - no sweeps. Sweeps have and should be used balancing the due process rights for the campers vs the public interest in using the land as it was intended. In this case, public interest is heavily tilted towards a safe school grounds. Between her public records snafus, land use issues, and slow walking reopening schools, this woman is going to get the district sued ten ways til Tuesday.

To Eleven

Anonymous said...

There are not only gun/knife/mental health/drug-related safety reasons for not allowing people to live on school property, there are also public health reasons.

From the Seattle Times:
A highly contagious intestinal infection is spreading in King County and primarily infecting people living through homelessness, public-health officials reported Wednesday. King County typically sees about two to three reported cases of shigella infection, a bacterial disease transmitted by fecal matter, per week this time of year. But since Dec. 14, county public-health officials have counted 22 cases and 40 total since the end of October. Of those, 70% of cases occurred to people who reported being homeless, having unstable housing or used homeless services in the last 12 months, according to Public Health — Seattle & King County.


61 percent of all Shigella-related deaths involve children younger than 5 years old. Wake up mayor, wake up school board. You are the political officials elected to protect kids. Don't fail them.

-Pinehurst Mom

NE Seattle Parent said...

Last summer during COVID I was looking for a field to play some ball with my son, and Eckstein was full of people, so we drove by Robert Eagle Staff with its huge new turf fields, and they were all locked up. Right next to the fields there were three ladies providing free lunches to students, so I asked them about using the fields, and they said they had seen kids jump over the fence, but that staff would then come and kick the kids out. So, I asked school leadership, and was told that all the district’s fields were closed “because of COVID”, which clearly wasn’t true because the fields at Jane Addams, Eckstein, Olympic View, and Roosevelt were all open and occupied, just not Robert Eagle Staff which is abutted by high density housing. Not surprisingly, the street next to the school was blocked off, and there were kids, including many minority kids, instead playing in the street and the school parking lot.

How ironic that we now have district leadership defending the rights of homeless people to camp on school property, when months before the district was kicking kids out of the largest open space in a generally disadvantaged neighborhood during the middle of the pandemic. I’m not arguing its right to kick the homeless off district property without finding them housing, but I can see why the mayor’s office may be exasperated with dealing with the district.

Robyn said...

@NE Seattle Parent, Bryant Elementary's playspace (basketball courts, four-square courts, small play structure) is STILL closed. I have written to the district four times asking it to be reopened. Most recently, last month, the reply was:

"We do not have the resources to provide a safe environment and to control social distancing. COVID conditions are monitored daily regarding our playgrounds and fields, as well as how our schools are operating. We will continue to evaluate this decision and appreciate your understanding."

I don't even understand whose guidance they're following, but that's not what the CDC or WHO says about outdoor playgrounds. Nobody is getting COVID from a four-square court.

SPS's attitude seems to be that if they can't provide something to everyone who wants it, at zero risk, then nobody can have it. Playgrounds, in-person education, education for highly capable students, you name it. It's Harrison Bergeron all the way down.

Anonymous said...

Mayor Durkan on KUOW The Record today, school issue raised. I suggest listening to it yourself, but this is my take. The city is honoring SPS board statement from back in March. Therefore they expect SPS to follow through on their own process. This would not be for SPS to provide services themselves, but to coordinate with the same provider(s) the city uses. She did mention SPS charter which includes ensuring the safety of the children, and a 1 billion dollar budget. This includes specific line items where there is leftover budget such as transportation. The city in turn has been providing technical help regarding their own process, providing security on adjacent property, agencies used. SPS has the former navigation team as director of operations, so they have this information in house. The city had done extensive outreach with agencies at Meany to move the encampment, it was also unlike Broadview on city owned property. The city is spending more then 200 million now on homelessness, up from 70 million when Durkan took office, yet homelessness has grown. This includes the chronically or long term homeless that need much more then shelter, they need permanent supportive housing. There has recently been broader involvement by regional players that should have been involved earlier to help Seattle with growing homelessness. There are now 1300 permanent supportive housing new spots coming available. The root causes are upstream and a much broader, wider and regional issue. The city of Seattle has been unable to keep up on its own. I think this is partially part of a broader push to involve financially many more parties with budgets to address the growing issue, our state, neighboring cites, WSDOT etc.
Seattle Dad

Anonymous said...

A just society houses people who need housing and also keeps schools, playgrounds and parks safe to use. Allowing encampments near where children play and access school is negating both of those goals. The people don’t have safe housing and children are not safe to play or access school. Homelessness is a giant problem that a sweep is not going to solve, but keeping the playgrounds and schools clear of encampments would solve one of the issues above. Hampson is putting children at risk to prove her virtuosity; vote!!! everybody.

Continued. said...

The city is honoring DeWolf and Hampson's statement. Board directors created a situation in which the school district must go into the business of finding housing, cleaning trash etc. for homeless.

There are very few tents on city property at Broadview. The majority of tents are on school property and for good reason.

Anonymous said...

If you believe what Durkan says you have been living under a rock. No offense.


Anonymous said...

This looks to me like the perfect example of NO accountability and systems failure. Any attempt of rationalizing beyong this is futile.

We have SPS who failed to open schools, has parents leaving in droves, yet has federal money to subsidies the salaries of staff which is not needed any more, and on the other hand we have 2 politicians Hampson and Durkan who's political careers are over, and just have no incentive of doing anything.

If this was a private bussiness all the people incharge would be looking for a job yesterday (instead of getting promoted)

Utter Dysfunction said...

An special education teacher and building SEA representative has filed a complaint against the district with Labor and Industries. The teacher states: “This is a sign of just the frustration in the lack of response,”

The district acknowledges that unauthorized individuals are living on the property. They state they are unaware of credible reports regarding weapons on school grounds. This, after the school goes into lockdown because an individual had what appeared to be a rifle, but turned out to be a pellet gun.

We clearly have a dysfunctional board and city government.

Liza Rankin is proud of the fact that she is fighting with the city while inaction persists.