A group of about 100 homeless campers will start moving to the University of Washington campus, Friday. They’ll pitch tents in a parking lot nestled among academic buildings and plan to stay until March.
“It’s historic, it’s the first time a homeless encampment has been on a publicly funded university,” said Sean Smith, a board member of the Seattle Housing and Resource Effort, or SHARE, a group that organizes tent cities.
SHARE worked with UW administrators, faculty, and students to establish the new tent city three campsite, which sits near the corner of Brooklyn Ave. NE and NE Pacific St.
In a statement UW president Ana Mari Cauce said "I recognize some of you may still have concerns and trepidation. That is fair and expected. I only ask that we approach hosting with open minds and take this opportunity to learn from the experiences of our neighbors."
“It’s a chance for both sides to break down some of the stereotypes that surround homelessness, break down that common misnomer of the derelict on the side of the road, and really get into what causes homelessness,” Smith said, while packing up the current tent city 3, which is on a church property in North Seattle.
Campers must follow a set of rules. No alcohol, drugs, open fires, or violence are allowed on the property. Sex offenders cannot stay there. And campsite organizers must provide water and portable toilets.
Aiden Griffith and Natalie Bissiri are students who live near the site and say they're glad the university decided to host the campers.
“Having them in a tent city is probably better in terms of safety than the current situation, both safety for them, and for other people as well,” said Griffith.