Food Lifeline eyeing Nickelsville property

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by HEATHER GRAF / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherGrafK5

KING5.com

Posted on April 3, 2013 at 11:10 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 3 at 11:18 PM

The homeless encampment known as Nickelsville has hit another snag.  This time, it's not flood waters threatening to force folks out, it's a pending real estate deal.

The 10-acre parcel of South Seattle land where Nickelsville now sits has caught the attention of the largest hunger relief organization in the state of Washington.

"We're currently outgrowing the facilities that we're in, and we are embarking on a project to build a new hunger solution center in the community," said Linda Nageotte with Food Lifeline.

Food Lifeline would like to buy the piece of property from the City of Seattle, and turn it into its new headquarters.

The problem is that doing so would involve displacing Nickelsville and all of its residents.

"We're really concerned about the issue, and want to make sure that if there is a possibility that a win-win solution can be found, we try to help make that happen," said Nageotte.  "There could be an alternative site that could be identified for the residents of Nickelsville, that Food Lifeline would be able to secure the parcel."

KING 5 spoke to several Nickelsville residents, all of whom were well aware of the looming move.

"What we're hearing is definitely in the next four months, we're going to be out of here," said Aaron Burkhart.

If you think they're angry with Food Lifeline, though, you're wrong.

"Food Lifeline is not really the enemy," said David Abercrombie, who has lived in Nickelsville for about nine months. 

Instead, he and other residents are hopeful that the conversations they've had with Food Lifeline will result in a new, and perhaps better location for their camp.

"I'm just hoping that we're able to find a suitable place for us to go, that's just what I'm hoping," said Burkhart.  "The actual space here is pretty rough because we're next to a trash processing plant, so there's a lot of rats.  I'm ready to go somewhere else."

The City of Seattle has not yet agreed to sell the property, but a decision is expected in the next couple of weeks.

Food Lifeline is asking its supporters to contact their council members, and express their support of the sale.

Meanwhile, the Highland Park Action Committee, this week, sent a letter to Mayor McGinn and members of Seattle City Council.  HPAC represents the Highland Park and Riverview Neighborhoods in Southwest Seattle, and is asking for the residents of Nickelsville to be evicted by June 13th.

HPAC cites ongoing issues with the homeless encampment, including a lack of order within the camp and public health risks.

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