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Seattle crews clear homeless encampment across from City Hall in downtown

The encampment clearing was halted in February after protesters arrived and stalled the crews' cleanup efforts.

SEATTLE — After starting and stopping more than two weeks ago, city crews cleared the homeless encampment along Fourth Avenue across from Seattle City Hall.

In a statement from the city, Parks and Recreation staff posted a removal notice Wednesday at 6 a.m. to have all belongings and tents moved from Fourth Avenue between James Street and Columbia Street by 8 a.m.

Of the 16 people experiencing homelessness onsite, seven were referred to shelters, and nine voluntarily left, according to the city of Seattle.

The effort comes to “address obstruction to pedestrian access” and nearly two weeks after the Seattle Fire Department responded to at least one fire at the encampment.

The city said the HOPE Team, which works on homeless outreach and shelter referrals, has been intensifying its efforts with those at the encampment over recent weeks. Since Feb. 17, outreach efforts resulted in at least 22 referrals to enhanced shelter and tiny homes.

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The Fourth Avenue encampment cleanup was halted in February after protesters appeared and linked arms and stalled crews cleaning tents. 

On Wednesday, parks crews received help from the Seattle Police Department, which blocked off the area using yellow tape and stationed officers on site.

The clearing follows other major encampment removals that have taken place in recent months around the city. Shortly before Mayor Bruce Harrell took office in January, the city cleared two large encampments at Ballard Commons and Green Lake Park.

In his first State of the City address in mid-February, Harrell outlined some of the changes his office would implement to deal with the homeless crisis, including the consolidation of six different departments tracking outreach and services into one system as well the launch of a new system to record residents’ encampment concerns.

In addition, the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) is spearheading a private-public partnership that involves the region’s largest companies called “Partnership for Zero.”

The new approach will direct the efforts of various homelessness response groups from the Unified Command Center, which the KCRHA will lead.

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