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(en) US, Seattle Solidarity Network Supports Camp Dearborn

Date Fri, 18 Mar 2016 09:57:40 +0200

Nearly a month ago, the residents at the Nicklesville Dearborn encampment took a vote of no confidence in the leadership of Scott Morrow from the Nicklesville 501c3 (as well as a founding board member of the Low-Income Housing Institute and the organization SHARE, which has worked with the houseless population here in Seattle for several decades now). Immediately after the vote went through, services critical to the survival to the encampment were cut off such as garbage pickup and food/water deliveries. About a week and a half later, rather than an attempt to resolve the situation, the camp received an ultimatum to either vote Morrow back into power by a specific date and time or face a camp shutdown and subsequent eviction. In the face of this threat, the camp voted once more to keep Morrow out of the camp and risk everything in order to try and find a solution that would work for both the camp and City Hall’s agenda for addressing the issue of houselessness here in Seattle. This final vote of no confidence was met with an announcement that the camp was being shut down.

With the potential eviction looming overhead, the camp began reaching out to community organizations such as SAFE and Seattle Solidarity Network. At our first meeting with the camp, one of the things that immediately drew our attention was the level of organization and commitment the residents had to maintaining the general code of conduct that they had been operating under when they still had the support of Morrow, LIHI, and the religious sponsor of the camp. Their determination to risk what little they had to their name stood as a testament to their capabilities and desire to serve as a model for other transitional encampments.

In response to the deadline given to them, the residents of Camp Dearborn decided to host an “Open House/Move-In Day” event just hours before the camp was officially closed. This event served a couple of purposes; it was an opportunity to invite the community into the camp to see that they had been working hard to keep it in good shape and within compliance of City regulations, a chance for community members to meet some of the residents and personalize the issue of houselessness, and provided a chance for people to move in to the camp to help hold the space in the event of an attempted eviction. With the help of Seattle Solidarity Network, SAFE, and other organizers, about 100 community members turned out for the event throughout the evening. It was a festive environment with music, stories being shared, and a load of much-needed donations coming into the camp. When the midnight deadline for camp closure rolled around, things got tense for a bit as police activity in the area increased but they came and went and the camp remained. While the anxiety lingered, one could not help but feel as if maybe the City had finally gotten the message that the community would not allow these people to swept back out onto the streets.

The camp still has a long ways to go in order to find a more permanent solution to their situation but a lot of progress has been made since the alleged closing of the camp over a week ago. They now have a willing financial sponsor of the camp through Patacara Community Services, a great organization that has been critical in keeping the camp going since the initial cut-off of services. Seattle Police Department has also come by the camp several times to state their commitment to allowing for a solution to take place that does not require any sort of sweep of the camp. Now it comes down to keeping things in order and running smoothly at the camp while a religious sponsor and new location are found.

Seattle Solidarity will remain committed to assisting the residents of Camp Dearborn in maintaining their right to self-management and resisting any attempts to evict them. If you are interested in getting involved with this fight, feel free to visit the camp at 1010 S. Dearborn to see what you can do to help them maintain the camp. Food, water, and firewood donations are always needed but as with any group, this is a diverse group of people so speaking directly with them is always going to be the best way to help get their needs met.

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