City to proceed with homeless encampment on Market St

After months of deliberation and contentious meetings with various neighborhood stakeholders Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Mike O’Brien announced on Wednesday that the City is going ahead with the temporary homeless encampment at 2826 NW Market St.

After consulting with a number of local stakeholders, City staff spent the last three months evaluating the viability of six alternative sites, which included both City-owned and privately-owned properties. However, as stated in the official written annoucement, “after a thorough analysis, it was determined that the sites were either not available for encampment use or did not meet code requirements.”

City staff have expressed their concern of finding a solution to assist local homeless persons before the weather turns too cold. “As we have begun to experience the fall and winter months, it is vital that we provide those experiencing homelessness with safe, secure places to stay as soon as possible,” writes Mayor Murray and Councilmember O’Brien.

After the set up of the Market St encampment, the City will continue to review and evaluate possible alternative locations that meet the criteria set by the ordinance which authorizes encampments. Michael Fong, Chief of Staff from the Mayor’s Office, confirms, however, that another location will require the City to address a number of outstanding legislative, environmental, and safety issues first which will take months to complete.

“Until those issues are resolved, the City will move forward with the process to stand up the Market Street site,” says Fong.

In their written announcement Mayor Murray and Councilmember O’Brien acknowledged those in the community who expressed their concerns about the use of the Market Street site. “We ask for support to the people who will be living there,” writes Mayor Murray and Councilmember O’Brien.

The opening date of the encampment is at this stage unknown, however, as per the City’s Sanctioned Encampment Siting, the encampment can remain in the area for no longer than a year and must be vacant for a year in between encampments. Click here to learn more about the Director’s rules for encampments.

The encampment will be operated by SHARENickelsville, or a prequalified faith-based or non-profit organization. The operators will be responsible for safety and security within the camp and residents will be screened by the operators for acceptance. The city confirms that Low Income Housing Institute will provide case management services to individuals living in the encampments. Operators will also form a Community Advisory Committee to respond to community concerns, review operations standards, and work with neighbors of the encampment site.

As the project moves forward, it is clear the encampment will continue to be a controversial issue within the community. The My Ballard team will continue to keep readers up to date with the latest information as the situation progresses.

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