Seattle residents met with the city’s interim police chief this week demanding solutions as a growing homeless encampment at a local park has drawn increasing security concerns – and a looming vaccine mandate is likely to worsen an already existing officer shortage afflicting neighborhood patrols.   

According to KOMO, residents from North Ballard/Crown Hill met with the interim chief of Seattle Police Department Adrian Diaz on Tuesday. They discussed increased harassment and open-air drug use as well as break-ins at local businesses. All these incidents were related with a Ballard Commons Park homeless encampment. 

Seattle firefighters attempted to rescue a woman aged 56 at the encampment on Sunday. However, they were unable save her life. Diaz was part of the community walk. Diaz allowed residents to vent their anger after a fire broke through the tents at the encampment, and numerous propane tanks exploded. KIRO reported. 

SEATTLE POLICE RESOLUTION CONVICT FELON FROM A WRECKED CARR BEFORE FLAMES ENGULF VEHICLE. BODYCAM VIDEO SHOWS

KING reported that at least 765 Seattle officers had already submitted COVID-19 information by Tuesday. This is 84% of force. Some 100 officers apply for exemptions while 202 do not have any documentation to prove their vaccination. 

It really frustrates me. I’m using nice words, OK?” Rudy Pantoja, a resident, said that he organized the meeting together with Diaz. He was referring to the homeless encampment within his community. “It’s not fair. There’s no consequence and I want them held accountable just like everybody does.”

He said addiction and outreach services were also invited to the community walk, but they didn’t show.

“What it tells me is that these people don’t matter,” Pantoja said. “We lost someone at Ballard Commons Park. Who’s next?”

Residents Monica Griggs and Monica Griggs can hear the camp screaming from their apartment across the street. KOMO asked her about the rape of homeless women, and she said that because they are often being sexually assaulted frequently by men, it leaves her with many questions. 

Griggs stated, “I believe there should be somebody held accountable for the fact we are hearing women shouting,” “I can tell my son what it is, and I know the meaning of that word. But R-A-P -E is not what I am able to explain.”

The most recent medical emergency Sunday death of a homeless lady was also addressed by her. 

“It is possible to save this person. He or she can be assisted. However, how will you be able to help him/her if they continue living like this? Griggs said. “Seattle, a city rich in wealth, is this unacceptable?”

This November will see Seattle’s mayoral race. Democratic Mayor Jenny Durkan, who is not seeking a second term after a year of controversies related to pandemic-era lockdowns, anti-police protests and an eventual autonomous zone, said the Ballard Commons Park camp is on the city’s “priority list for removal” but has not provided a timeline. 

Bruce Harrell, mayoral candidate, told KOMO that he does not believe you are seeing a sense o urgency for people to be housed or their neighborhoods to get back their parks and shared space. We must help these people, but also need to feel a sense urgency about how to do it.

According to the councilmember, “I feel the city needs to do two things.” “Number 1: They have to alter the narrative. Let everyone know that we intend to publish a plan. This will allow you to see the deadlines and make sure you are on the right track. The second is to actually do it.

Harrell wants to see at least 12 percent of the budget allocated to housing. Harrell envisions 1,000 units being ready for occupancy within six months in 2022. He also proposes 2,000 units before the year’s end. 

Harrell stated, “We will publish our plan.” We will publish a plan. We will find ways to raise money from existing taxes. Additionally, we will be implementing progressive taxation and using the resources of the philanthropic community. “We will begin to treat and build our way out from the problems.”

His opponent, Lorena González, has been outspokenly against police doing sweeps to clear homeless people from encampments. Unveiling her plan for addressing the city’s homelessness population at a press conference three weeks ago, she told reporters that Seattle needs to lobby the state of Washington and King County for more funding for mental health services. 

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“Nobody wants an encampment anywhere in the city,” González said. Gonzalez stated, “I’m not going to force people to leave one public space to shift the problem to another.”

González estimates the city needs 37,000 affordable housing units.

“It’s our responsibility to offer individuals a service and housing that meets their needs,” she said. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Once we have that conversation, I think people will be open to those services and housing. The problem right now is we don’t have enough shelter.”