By Erica C. Barnett

Olga Park, a small piece of green space near Ravenna and Cowen Parks in northeast Seattle, has been the site of a fairly small but disruptive camp for about a year. Neighbors of nearby apartments and houses often complained to the city about the noise, drug use and hostile treatment of the people who lived there, typical points of friction between the housed and the homeless in the city. densely populated residential areas.

But many neighborhood residents also worked to find alternatives that wouldn’t simply displace residents of the settlement, meeting with REACH outreach workers who developed relationships with people living in the park to discuss options that would keep them in. the neighborhood. “My ideal approach so far, which we advocate with the city, is something like the JustCARE program, where people move into hotels on a voluntary basis,” said Teresa Barker, of the Ravenna-Cowen Community Alliance. .

Those conversations came to an abrupt end last week, when the city decided to sweep the encampment after a man who lived elsewhere shot and killed a resident of the encampment. Those who live in the park have been given about two days’ notice; two agreed to be referred to the downtown Executive Pacific Hotel and one was referred to Otto’s Place, a 100 bed refuge in Pioneer Square. The rest have moved elsewhere, leaving behind tents, goods and trash for the parks service to take away.

The small number of people who “accepted” referrals from shelters in the days leading up to the scan “just shows that the person-centered and relationship-building approach works better than the gut response,” Maureen Ewing, director of University Heights Center, mentioned.

Neighbors who have been asking the city to take care of the encampment for months were relieved that it was gone, but said they also understand the city is not solving anything by moving the traumatized people from place to place. ‘other. The small number of people who “accepted” referrals from shelters in the days leading up to the scan “just shows that the person-centered and relationship-building approach works better than the gut response,” Maureen Ewing, director of the nearby University of Heights. Center, said. “It’s unfortunate that we were waiting to let go of the hammer and force people out when they are already traumatized by the murder.”

Ewing and Barker both said the town needs to do something about the encampment; both pointed to many examples of aggressive behavior and dangerous incidents, including a large fire, screaming brawls, verbal threats, and a man who climbed 40 feet into a tree and did not want to get off. But they both said most of the neighborhood wanted the city to offer alternatives that would actually work for residents of the settlement, rather than a standard sweep, in which people are offered whatever shelter is available at the moment.

I think the people who live in houses are in conflict, because they care about the well-being of the people who live there, but they also care about the impact of the impact of the people who live there on the neighborhood. —Theresa Barker, Ravenna-Cowen Community Alliance.

I think the people who live in houses are in conflict, because they care about the well-being of the people who live there, but they also care about the impact of the impact of the people who live there on the neighborhood ” , said Barker. “The challenge is that in a few weeks we will see them again – if not on this site, they can be on the street or on the playground or on the playground, with even more defense mechanisms due to the trauma that comes. to happen to them. “continue reading “Residents ask the city to help homeless neighbors; The city reacts by sweeping the park “



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