+ There is nowhere else for people to go. If not here, then where?
o The demand is not that people MUST stay at the bridge. The question is if not there, then where? Where is safer? Where is healthier? The City has not yet designated a comparable alternative location.
o Shelters have been at or near capacity. Even if they weren’t, an overnight first-come, first-serve shelter bed is not a comparable substitute for a guaranteed 24/7 spot at a camp or mitigation site.
+ The City has given the camp’s residents and service providers, who have little to no resources, only three weeks to find an alternative place for people to go, when the City with all its resources has been unable to do that in over a year.
+ Forcing people to vacate a camp when no comparable alternative location is offered does not solve the problem, it only moves the problem.
o Camp residents will likely end up in another unsanctioned camp on public or private property.
+ Sweeping the camp will not resolve the City’s stated health and safety concerns, it will make them worse.
o Camp residents are likely to end up somewhere without portapotties or a dumpster.
o They will likely end up in a less visible area where the risks of exploitation, sickness, violence, and death are higher.
+ Whack-a-mole, forcing unhoused community members to keep moving from one unsanctioned site to another, inflicts trauma and harm on some of our most vulnerable neighbors, which has ripple effects on our entire community.
+ Thus far, the justification for this planned sweep has been based largely on reasons that appear to be unfounded, inaccurate, or exaggerated (e.g., the non-existent gas pipeline & digging out the bridge footings). City statements about the 4th Avenue camp have also left out information about the camp residents’ efforts to address the City’s concerns.
o We need to gather people around the same table to sort out the conflicting perspectives and narratives about 4th Ave.
+ Please stop/pause the scheduled sweep until there is an appropriate/comparable alternative place designated for people to go to.
+ Please allow a community-based effort to work with and support the residents at 4th Avenue to mitigate the conditions there and buy time to find an appropriate alternative location.
o This has been working well for over a year at the Nickerson camp on Wheeler Avenue.
+ We are not asking the City to fix this situation, but we are asking the City to give members of our community an opportunity to work together to create something positive from something really difficult.