Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Westlake Park homeless protesters pitch tents
Two homeless camps are set to close leaving the occupants with no place to go.


Despite the stormy forecast, homeless advocates spent Tuesday night in three tents in the middle of Seattle’s Westlake Park.

The advocates told KIRO 7 the camp is an act of protest to call attention of an immediate crisis with two established shelters. At 7 a.m. the protesters planned to march to Mayor Ed Murray’s office in Seattle’s city hall, before his meeting with homeless advocates and committee members. Homeless advocates tell KIRO-7 they want the Mayor to allow Tent City 3—in Ravenna to remain open.

Signs posted by city inspectors outside the camp warn residents the encampment is illegal. The city had initially sent a notice to vacate by Oct. 22, but KIRO 7 was told early Wednesday morning that the deadline has been suspended for now.

On Tuesday night, in an old church hall on lower Queen Anne, volunteers with the WHEEL shelter worry they might have far more homeless woman seeking shelter here--than mats to put them on.

Volunteer Mary Castillo told KIRO 7 “There could be anywhere from 50 to 70 women a night here."

Friday will be the last night women can stay in the Sacred Heart Parish hall. Shelter organizers wrote a letter to Mayor Murray, asking for a new space anywhere on city property, saying it's a matter of life and death--and that's why advocates are loudly protesting in tents, in Westlake Park.

“We're asking the mayor to let us stay, said Roger Franz, camp director at Tent City 3. “We have no place else to go until we move to Seattle Pacific University and that's scheduled for Jan. 10."

Franz says that means at least 60 more people here will have nowhere to go, until the coldest part of winter.

“There are people who don't have a safe place to stay tonight,” said Anitra Freeman.

WHEEL women's shelter volunteers are hopeful the Mayor will give them another space—perhaps unused city-owned space at Seattle Center, but volunteers are realistic.

“No matter what happens we're going to make sure we stay together and we keep the women safe,” said WHEEL’s Mary Castillo. “I don't care if we have to sleep under a bridge. I'll be there every night making sure they have a blanket to sleep with. I'll watch over them, making sure they're safe,  safe."

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