Central District

Former Nickelsville residents settling in to new campsites

Former Nickelsville residents settling in to new campsites
SEATTLE -- The City of Seattle evicted them on Sunday, but the former residents of the Nickelsville homeless camp have already re-surfaced with tent camps in three new neighborhoods.

Nickelsville was located in a wide-open field in an industrial zone, but the new locations are sandwiched between homes.

Many who live near the new camps say they have no problem with their new neighbors as long as the rules are followed, but others think city leaders need to come up with a better solution.

The new campsites are slowly coming together. Two are located in the middle of the Central District, and camp residents and neighbors are being forced to adjust to new surroundings.

"If they abide by what they say they will in their flyer about their program, then I don't see anything's wrong with it," said resident Margaret DeGravelle.

DeGravelle and others are willing to give the camps a chance, but an apartment manager already senses trouble at the Jackson Street site.

"A man was sitting outside his tent, sitting in a chair swigging on a bottle. It was a brown bottle and I don't know what it was, but it just looked suspicious," said Jan Berumen.

Berumen said the once-empty lot now housing homeless people has had rat problems and worries it will get worse when the homeless store food on site.

"The other concern is safety," Berumen said. "We have children who randomly play around here. I don't know who they are. I'm sure they don't run all these intricate background checks that we run on our residents."

Nickelsville does allow campers who have been convicted of felonies, but organizers say they ban all registered sex offenders.

Some neighbors near the Skyway campsite are willing to look past any problems from before.

"As long as they don't bother me, they are cool with me," said Sam Rhodes.

Other neighbors worry about how the camp may affect their property value, especially since the timeline on the stay is indefinite. Others say the current solution doesn't help anyone.

"They are just pushing the problem from one place to another to another and they are not solving the problem. They are just putting it on another community making them have to deal with it and that's so not right," Berumen said.

The two Seattle camps are sponsored by churches and, under city ordinances, can stay indefinitely. The Skyway location is in unincorporated King County and will have to disband after three months.