As controversy swirls around the city's policy to remove homeless encampments from public property, some people who have lost everything just want their stuff back.
Real Change vendor Missy Alger said she lost most of her personal belongings on Easter morning when the city swept the campsite she shared with her husband near Queen Anne. "They took my address book with pictures of my kids," she says. "They were the only ones I had."
Alger and her husband Steven Baldwin say they now worry about putting their belongings down anywhere for fear they'll be taken. They also report that more people are involved in the sweep efforts. Last Wednesday, outreach workers roused them from a spot under the freeway at 5 a.m. to warn them of an impending sweep. City protocol for "clean-up" efforts requires no less than 72 hours notice, though the area where Baldwin and Alger were sleeping, under I-5 at Sixth Ave. and Cherry St., is managed by the state Department of Transportation.
Seattle Parks and Recreation spokesperson Dewey Potter adamantly affirms that the city holds personal property for 60 days for the owner to pick up.
In accord with the protocols released in April, "The item doesn't have to be valued at over $25," she says, "we will save anything that appears to have personal value." Potter said the city always posts notice after a camp has been closed with information on how to recover personal items.
Alger said she was unaware that her belongings might be in storage; in her 20 years on the street, she says, she has never heard of anyone recovering their personal items.
Potter said items kept by her department are held at a warehouse five miles south of downtown.