This Monday, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) posted a notification to residents of the Nickelsville homeless encampment at Second Ave. SW and West Marginal Way SW that they have 72 hours to permanently vacate state property. The hand-delivered notice from Ron Judd of the Governor's Office and David Dye of WSDOT came after WSDOT received word from the city that its four-acre property was in violation of city health and safety codes.
The Nickelsville homeless encampment moved into its south Seattle location on June 6th. For over six weeks the Nickelodeons, residents of the encampment, have been attempting to negotiate a permanent dwelling within the city, with the support of the Church Council of Greater Seattle, Veterans for Peace and others. Earlier this month, WSDOT Secretary Paula Hammond gave the camp until July 20 to leave the property, which spokespersons for Nickelsville agreed to hoping that a permanent site would be identified before then. As of July 21, no such site had been found.
"The state negotiated an ample timeframe for a more permanent solution for the residents of the encampment, and we even extended the deadline to give church council leaders more time," says Hammond. "While we are sensitive to the issues relative to homelessness in our state, WSDOT is not equipped to manage homeless encampments. We are governed by state law on the use of our property, as well as city zoning requirements."
According to a state official, social services are on site to help members of the encampment move by the Thursday evening deadline. The Washington State Patrol will become involved after the deadline if any campers have not vacated by this time.
Nickelsville residents remain resolute that they are not leaving the south Seattle location unless they have found another place they can live undisturbed.
"We're just going to take it one day at a time," said Nickelsville spokesperson Wayne Burgur, in response to the notice. "We're trying to find a permanent spot, we'll see if we get raided or not, probably there will be a lot of people going to jail, but we're not leaving until we find a permanent [place]."