SEATTLE — A homeless encampment in Seattle's Miller Park neighborhood is scheduled to be cleared starting Friday, before students return to school next week.
On Wednesday, the city of Seattle posted an official notice on each tent, saying belongings will be cleared unless they are moved or taken to temporary storage provided by the city.
By evening that day, most of the inhabitants left and the tents were empty.
The notice comes in preparation for the April 19 reopening of Meany Middle School, located next to the homeless encampment. Months-long outreach efforts to get the homeless into shelters culminated on the final notice to move belongings.
Tim Vetovich, who has been living in his makeshift tent home for about five months, said he had been aware of the potential notice and already made arrangements to move into temporary shelter at Executive Hotel Pacific, one of the hotels contracted with the city to provide temporary shelter with a path toward permanent housing.
"I'm happy everything turned out," Vetovich said.
While students attending the middle school are set to return to class, Kira Robb, a caretaker who works at a preschool adjacent to the camp, said children have been playing in a playground not far from some of the tents for months.
"We've been open the entire time, the entire quarantine," Robb said.
The proximity of the camp so near the playground brought an unexpected opportunity to teach young children about homelessness.
"Homelessness isn't a thing that should be shamed. It isn't something that should be hidden," Robb said.
Sean McGehee, a resident of nearby Capitol Hill, volunteered to reach out to the homeless at Miller Park and let them know about their options.
"I would hope someone would reach out to me if I needed help," McGehee said, adding he was not aware of any incidents of violence at the camp.
Since October, the Seattle Fire Department responded to the Miller Park camp at least 23 times for illegal burns, tent fires, or medical support, according to city officials.
Those displaced from the Miller Park camp will have options to stay in shelters operated by the city's DESC, as well as Otto's Place, a shelter operated by Compass. Other options include any available units at the city's hotel-based temporary shelters and tiny home villages.