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caption: Kelsey, left, and Tyler, right, work to secure tarps into a garbage bag as the city of Seattle removed unhoused people and their belongings from an encampment at Woodland Park on Tuesday, May 10, 2022, in Seattle. 
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Kelsey, left, and Tyler, right, work to secure tarps into a garbage bag as the city of Seattle removed unhoused people and their belongings from an encampment at Woodland Park on Tuesday, May 10, 2022, in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Why an encampment clearing at Woodland Park could point toward a policy shift in Seattle

City crews arrived Tuesday at Woodland Park in Phinney Ridge to clear what Mayor Harrell's administration called “the last remaining park-based encampment of significant size” in Seattle.

In a statement, the mayor’s office said the latest removal was something the city had been working on since the mayor took office in January. Using a three-phase system, city officials say they reached out to the 61 people living at the park, working with service-provider partners and community groups like the Phinney Neighborhood Association.

As of April 28, they had referred at least 30 people to shelter or housing.

KUOW reporter Casey Martin was at the scene Tuesday at Woodland Park, and told Soundside how the clearing progressed and how the people still living there reacted.

The city first started the process to clear Woodland Park in January — a months-long process that's only now leading to an actual clearing of the camp.

Alison Eisinger, executive director of the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, said the more gradual approach was unusual for this mayor and his predecessors. And she hopes it marks a policy shift for the Harrell administration.

Eisinger spoke to host Libby Denkmann about what she believes needs to come next for outreach in Seattle.