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Advocates say homeless camp clear-outs during western Washington heat wave are dangerous

Homeless camp sweeps are happening right now in Seattle, in the middle of a heat wave, with more to come.

SEATTLE — Advocates are calling for a halt to homeless camp sweeps during above-average hot weather in western Washington. 

Being only steps from the water wasn’t enough to cool down people without an A/C unit on Wednesday.

“It’s sweltering, like I’ve been swimming and stuff like that, but other than that, drinking a lot of water and try and keep ice on hand,” said Dena who lives in one of the RVs in the parking lot to Terry Pettus Park. She has lived here for a couple of months. 

A good Samaritan stopped by to give everyone living in the parking lot popsicles, a welcome relief to the heat. 

But the heat isn’t their only worry with the King County Regional Homelessness Authority conducting three sweeps this week. Dena said she's not sure where she'll go.

The city said they’ve had the removals on the calendar for several weeks and that they are connecting people with shelters and services as well as doing welfare checks. 

“If I don’t get into housing, I’m going to lose everything I own again,” said Dena who's already moved four times this year. She said it's been rough since her dad died late last year.

The city said they are offering shelter to people, but Dena believes the shelters aren’t safe for her and her dog.

“It’s a matter of humanity, of basic humanity, you literally will be killing people if you’re not taking care of them, if you’re forcing them to move like this," said Kara Dineen who is with the homeless outreach group, Take the Next Step.  

Dineen and her two daughters handed out water and snack bags to people experiencing homelessness, each one with a card. 

“'You are loved,' because I know how much they feel like they aren’t loved at all," said Dineen's daughter, Sanah.

Seattle City Councilmember Tammy Morales is calling on the city to ensure people have services and resources available to them before they are displaced. Both Dineen and Morales said moving people in this extreme heat is dangerous. 

“Any extreme weather is detrimental to the homeless population. They have no place to go," said Dineen.

For now, Dana is hoping she’ll be able to leave when that 9 a.m. clear-out begins on Thursday.

"We barely got the van started so hopefully we’ll be able to start it,” she said.


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