Neighbors react to new homeless camps in Seattle

CNN
Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 10:06am

Seattle, WA (KCPQ) -- One day after the city's deadline to close Nickelsville, all of the homeless residents of that tent city have moved to three new locations throughout Seattle.

Most neighbors are taking a wait-and-see attitude. Some of the homeless moved into the 'Union camp' Sunday. It was a surprise for the guy living in the house directly across the street.

"This is an unusual sight right here, right in front of my bedroom," said Ed Ealy.

Ealy came home this weekend to find homeless people camping in tents across the street from his 22nd Avenue home.

"All of the sudden you wake up one day, look out the door and there's something you really don't know anything about," said Ealy.

Nearly a dozen tents popped up since Sunday inside the church overflow parking lot. This is just one of three locations set up across Seattle.

"I don't have any problem with them, but I'm just a little bit disappointed," said Atifa Kalil, who lives near the 'Jackson camp.' "We had no idea these people were moving here."

Churches aren't required to offer public feedback in cases where they sponsor ministries for the homeless such as Nickelsville.

And for the homeless residents moving in, they say the new urban locations could mean better access to help and a permanent home.

"Here we're closer to services, closer to bus lines, closer to grocery stores," said former Nickelsville resident Mike Singer.

Neighbors near the Skyway location also have mixed emotions about the new tenants.

"I'm kind of glad they have somewhere that the homeless can stay," said neighbor Mele Tovia. "But I feel like we have to watch out for our kids."

And some folks at the apartments across the street from the Skyway location say as long as the camp doesn't bring any trouble, there's no reason to be suspicious about their new neighbors.

"Live with us, try to blend in with us," said neighbor Alexis Gordon. "We try to treat everybody like family. I don't discriminate against anybody. Just because you don't have four walls and can't flip on a light don't mean you're any less than a person than me."

Organizers say they tried their best to send out fliers to people in all three neighborhoods before they moved in, but it doesn't look like they were able to reach everyone.

A community meeting is scheduled Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Skyway location, where organizers hope to answer any questions by neighbors.

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