Nickelsville homeless camp to start moving out of Ballard this weekend

The city of Seattle announced this afternoon that Nickelsville’s move to the Northlake location will start getting underway this weekend.

As we’ve been reporting, Low Income Housing Institute volunteers have been hard at work installing 22 tiny houses at 3814 Fourth Ave. NE in the Northlake neighborhood.

The new location (below) is 20 percent larger than the Ballard location on Market St., and it will also have electricity, sewer services and running water.

The city said the Market St. site will be phased out and de-camped during the month of March, before being handed back over to Seattle City Light, which owns the property.

Residents in the Ballard camp were slated to move at the end of their two-year lease in November, but the Northlake site — also a City Light property — was not ready.

New Nickelsville camp coming together quickly

After a slow start, the future home of the Ballard Nickelsville camp in the Northlake neighborhood is taking shape.

A few dozen volunteers organized by the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) pitched in today, helping put the first tiny houses into position and providing finishing work. The houses are assembled off-site — in volunteers’ driveways, churches and a college campus — and shipped to the site at 3814 4th Ave. NE.

Brad Gerber from LIHI told My Ballard that the site should be ready by mid-March for the Ballard Nicklesville camp to move. The camp was planning to move in November, but the land — which is owned by the city — was not ready. Since then a house was demolished, and workers filled and leveled the site with rock and gravel.

Organizers expect to have 20 tiny houses on the site along with electricity and running water (which the Ballard location does not offer), including toilets and showers. The homes will be decorated with welcome signs inside.

About 25 people will move over from Ballard, and another 5 will join them for a total of 30 residents, Gerber said.

LIHI is holding another work party at the Northlake site next Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you’re interested in helping, please RSVP first on the LIHI website.

Outreach worker assigned to Ballard to work with the homeless

Most agree that homelessness is a big problem in Ballard, but the debate rages over what to do about it. The removal of “unsanctioned campers” from Ballard Commons Park and the new fencing under the Ballard Bridge are two recent examples that have sparked heated conversations both on My Ballard and off.

Now there’s a new effort to help. Through a partnership with REACH and the Ballard Alliance, Ballard now has a dedicated “outreach case manager” working with the homeless community. Her name is Paige Killinger.

“Homelessness is a multifaceted issue and it can happen to anyone,” Killinger told the Ballard Alliance, which published a story in its newsletter. “I have met with people who grew up in Ballard and had professions, but different circumstances, such as a heart attack and mounting medical bills, led them to a life of homelessness. All of my client’s needs are different, so my job begins with reaching out to them, having a conversation and building trust.”

Killinger says her top priority is connecting the homeless with services that can help. She’ll also interface with local businesses and neighbors. She works for REACH, which is a program from Evergreen Treatment Services, a local non-profit that “provides street-based, case management and outreach services.”

“During our initial planning, it was our hope to fund a half-time outreach worker focused on the Ballard area,” said Ballard Alliance Executive Director Mike Stewart in the newsletter. “Through our partnership with REACH, we were able to leverage our funding to secure a match from the King County Department of Health. We’ve essentially doubled our anticipated service levels and are creating a model program that we hope will be emulated by other neighborhood improvement districts across the city.”

You may see Killinger out in the neighborhood, and she’s set up office hours at the Ballard Library every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to noon. All are welcome to stop in, say hello and ask questions.

Workers preparing future site of Ballard Nickelsville camp

The Ballard Nickelsville camp was slated to move at the end of its two-year lease in November, but it had nowhere to go. The city granted an extension while it worked on the camp’s future location: 3814 4th Ave. NE in the Northlake neighborhood.

The city initially expected the site to be ready by mid-December, but work has taken longer than anticipated. When we visited this week, trucks were hauling in rock to fill the hole left by a demolished building. The land is owned by Seattle City Light.

“The property will be turned over to LIHI sometime mid-month,” explains city spokesman Will Lemke, referring to the Low Income Housing Institute, which operates the Nickelsville homeless camps. “They’ll organize work parties to construct the tiny homes.”

If they work quickly, the camp could move around the end of the month, but Lemke says there’s “no hard date for occupancy.” We’ll keep you updated.

Area under Ballard Bridge fenced off to keep out homeless campers

Both sides of Leary Way under the Ballard Bridge are now surrounded in chain link fence. In some places, it’s topped with barbed wire. Until the fence went up, the area had been a popular place for the homeless to camp.

The fence was installed to “maintain the structural integrity of the bridge and keep our communities and commuters safe,” SDOT said in a statement. “Wooden structures, open flames and propane tanks all pose a clear danger to public safety and has the potential to destroy this critical transportation corridor that 60,000 vehicles rely on each day.”

SDOT said there have been two fires under the bridge in recent years, in 2013 and 2016.

It’s not the first bridge area that SDOT has fenced off from the homeless. Last November a “no climb” fence was installed under the Spokane Street Viaduct after a fire in an RV camp.

SDOT also pointed to the devastating fire under an overpass in Atlanta last year. Police say a homeless man set a fire that ignited plastic conduit stacked nearby.

The new Ballard fence has been a hot topic in the My Ballard Facebook Group, drawing both praise for SDOT and concern the fence doesn’t address the larger problem.

Speaking with the Seattle Times, Councilmember Mike O’Brien says the fence is just displacing the campers. “They’re probably three blocks from here, next to some business,” he said.

The Times reported the Ballard Bridge fencing cost $100,000.

As deadline nears for Ballard Nickelsville to move, new location is not ready

The Ballard Nickelsville camp on Market St. will officially reach the end of its two-year stay on November 18th. But in a meeting with neighbors and the camp’s residents last night, the City of Seattle said the new location — at 3814 4th Ave. NE in the Northlake neighborhood — will not be ready until mid-December.

With winter approaching, the city says Nickelsville is welcome to stay in Ballard until then. But camp residents say they’re concerned that they’d be breaking their promise with the community if they don’t move on the 18th, according to KOMO TV. Neighbors at the meeting said they didn’t mind if campers stayed a little longer.

Another issue is the size of the new location — a plot of land owned by City Light. While 20% larger, campers worry it may yield less usable space than Nickelsville’s current location in Ballard.

Earlier this summer, a city report found that the Nickesville encampments around Seattle have met or exceeded performance expectations. The Ballard location was the first city-permitted encampment, and it serves up to 25 residents at a time.

The city says it’s planning two community meetings on Nov. 16th and 20th to discuss the Northlake site. There’s an existing meeting already planned for Nov. 28 to discuss the Northlake site at 6:30 p.m., UW Fisheries Building — Auditorium 102, 1122 NE Boat Street (flyer here).

We’ll keep you updated.

Nyer Urness House celebrates first birthday

cherylIt has been an entire year since Nyer Urness House (1753 NW 56th St) first opened its doors to provide formerly homeless men and women with safe and comfortable permanent housing.

The team at Compass Housing Alliance are proud of their achievements so far and are excited to celebrate this special milestone with the local community.

Nyer Urness House has assisted 80 members of the local homeless community within the past year, by providing them with a permanent place to call home.

The very first person to call Nyer Urness home was Cheryl (pictured above), who was left homeless after coping with mental illness and unemployment. Cheryl was living in Hammond House, Compass Alliance’s overnight women’s shelter, when she moved into her own apartment at Nyer Urness.

Cheryl had been without a home for four years and now, with her own apartment, she is able to better manage the symptoms of her mental illness. If she needs help or support she is now able to go downstairs and turn to the Nyer Urness staff.

“I owe this place everything,” Cheryl says. “I’m so grateful to everyone who contributed to making this possible.”

According to Amy Besunder, the Compass Housing Alliance Capital Campaign Manager, the first year at Nyer Urness has been “filled with miracles.” These miracles have included watching one resident successfully battle cancer and return safely home in remission to Nyer Urness.

Compass Alliance are currently working on their newest project, Peter’s Place, which serves the homeless community in Seattle’s Central Area.

The center offers fresh, nutritious food, hot coffee, showers, hygiene and laundry facilities and counseling/referral services for homeless men and women. At night, the Peter’s Place opens its doors as an overnight shelter to 40 men and 10 women.

The organization recently launched its $60K in 60 Days fundraising campaign to support the important services offered at Peter’s Place.

“When a person walks through the door, they’re taking the first step on their journey out of homelessness. For as little as $15, you can help provide a welcoming space at Peter’s Place for our neighbors who are homeless,”  says Besunder.

Over here in Ballard it is clear that Nyer Urness House has become a key support for the local homeless community and has had a big impact on our neighborhood as a whole.

“A place to call home and a kind and caring environment can dramatically change a life for the better. We thank the Ballard community for welcoming and supporting Nyer Urness House,” says Besunder.

Happy Birthday Nyer Urness from the team at My Ballard!

SHARE to open shelter in nearby neighborhood

Last November, Our Redeemer’s Church decided to close the SHARE homeless shelter in Loyal Heights after the discovery of a convicted child rapist. This week, SHARE announced that it’s moving ahead with plans to open a temporary shelter in Green Lake, at Bethany Lutheran Church (7400 Woodlawn Ave NE). At a community meeting in the neighborhood last night, the Ballard incident sparked some heated discussion.

Our sister site, My Green Lake, attended the meeting and posted this report.

Coalition reaching out to churches to help ‘homeless car campers’

The Ballard Homes for All Coalition is reaching out to dozens of churches to help “homeless car campers” around the neighborhood.

Back in 2008, the coalition proposed a one-year pilot project for one congregation to host a handful of people, providing them with a place to park and access to hygiene facilities. During the 2008 Sustainable Ballard Festival unveiled the hygiene station above. “That project never got off the ground unfortunately for a variety of reasons though we did a lot of work around developing guidelines for operation of the site, a screening checklist, resident/host agreements, acquiring funding, and, of course, constructing the mobile shower,” Jean Darsie the chair of the coalition tells us.

Now the coalition is proposing that multiple churches help the car campers. “We are taking a new direction this time and reaching out to multiple congregations in Ballard, asking them to take in one, maybe, two vehicles onto their land and offering a level of support to them based on the congregation’s ability or willingness to provide,” Darsie says.

The Ballard Homes for All Coalition is holding a community meeting on Thursday evening at 7 p.m. at the Crown Hill United Methodist Church (8500 14th Ave NW) to discuss this idea. Speakers at the meeting will be Jean Darsie, John Skans from Crown Hill Methodist Church and Sally Kinney from the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness. For more information you can contact Darsie at

‘The Homeless Neighbor’

Seattle’s homeless population stretches far beyond downtown. North Seattle residents and businesses are also struggling to deal with the issue. To see how the community is trying to find a balance, we take you to the streets of Ballard for a raw and compelling look at the problem.

The Homeless Neighbor is the third in a series of stories partnering Next Door Media sites with the nonprofit Common Language Project and students of University of Washington’s Entrepreneurial Journalism class. One of the authors of this story is Christian Caple, the editor of our newest neighborhood site U District Daily.

Continue reading “The Homeless Neighbor.”