Tensions rise over who is responsible for the Bitter Lake homeless encampment on school grounds

The homeless settlement near Broadview Thomson K-8 is attracting the attention of more Seattle mayoral candidates who say the city must intervene.

SEATTLE – A second Seattle mayoral candidate has said the current incumbent should seek immediate resolution to an impasse over a homeless encampment on school grounds.

The approximately 40-tenth camp is located just below Broadview Thomson K-8 School and on Seattle Public Schools (SPS) property. The city and school district are at odds over how best to handle the situation, which has frustrated Bitter Lake residents, park enthusiasts, parents and teachers.

Mayoral candidate Colleen Echohawk got people out of homelessness while working as director of the Chief Seattle Club. She said of the encampment that “this cannot go on.”

Echohawk said she believes the mayor’s office should take leadership and said: “There is no plan, there is a finger pointed at town hall.”

His call to action came after former Seattle City Council chairman and mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell took a similar stance on Friday. Harrell met with neighbors who demanded an immediate solution, citing concerns about crime and the safety of schoolchildren.

SPS board chairman Chandra Hampson on Monday canceled a scheduled interview with KING 5 on the matter, on five minutes’ notice, and did not respond to follow-up texts. She challenged the city’s position that the district owns private property and refused aid.

However, emails between district and city leaders paint an acrimonious picture, going back to a since-deleted Facebook post from Hampson calling for an end to homeless camp sweeps.

In an April 2 email, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan wrote to Hampson and the rest of the board: “I regret President Hampson that this is how we were presented, and j hope we can establish regular connection and better forms of communication.

Durkan continued, “When we have any questions, issues or concerns, we pick up the phone and call each other.”

Two weeks later, Deputy Mayor Casey Sixkiller, who is also running for mayor, informed the district that the camp was on their property and: “The City understands that the SPS does not want the camp to be removed without offering shelter and services, consistent with our previous conversation that such services are the responsibility of SPS to fund and provide, as this encampment is outside of the City’s jurisdiction. “

In an email to KING 5 this weekend, Seattle school board member Liza Rankin, who represents the area near Broadview Thomson, said the situation was “tiring.”

“The mayor repeating the lie that the school district has refused services …” and that “candidates for office using it as a political argument while the school district, school community, neighborhood and members of the the homeless community continue to bear the brunt of the situation is just too much, ”Rankin wrote in part.

Echohawk said on Monday the city had to intervene.

“The deadline has to be back in town, the town has to use the FEMA dollars that are there,” said Echohawk, who said she had a 22 point plan to end homelessness and get everyone off the streets within 14 months. Frame.

“Let’s bring them in, each person.”

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