Seattle testing 'point-based system' to prioritize, remove homeless encampments

New information has come to light on a point-based system the City of Seattle is testing to decide which homeless encampments should be removed first.

The information came to light after Publicola released a PowerPoint as part public disclosure request, originally intended to be an internal document for city staff.

It showcases the debate within the City about how to handle tent and RV encampment removals.

Mayor Bruce Harrell pulled the wraps off his administration’s homelessness response strategy on May 31. On that day, he hinted about a prioritization system to aid in the decision-making process on which camps should be removed first.

"We have criteria by which we will measure the areas we will clean up," he said at the time.

But details of those criteria were not made public until Tuesday.

Situations like a tent blocking wheelchair access on a sidewalk would receive 2 points. Blocking a business entrance, large amount of debris, near children, elderly and a park would each get 1 point.

Blocking traffic site lines, near a waterway, a chemical hazard or having more than two fires year-to-date and shots fired year-to-date would be scored as 1 point each.

If there was a fire in the last 10 days, the score increases by 2 points.

However, the points climb dramatically if gun violence is involved. If shots were fired in the last 10 days, that’s 4 points. If someone was shot and killed at any time, that nets 5 points. 

If that fatality happened in the last 10 day, that’s 8 points, the highest points possible in any category.

The document also raises the question on how much the public should be told about the system.

On one page entitled ‘Why do we need a prioritization system?’ reads, "We need to be able to tell the public why we are addressing site A over site B."

The next line reads, "Decision Point: should the public be able to go on the dashboard and see where their site stands in priority to others?"

During a press only briefing made just prior to the mayor’s May 31 announcement, Deputy Mayor for Homelessness Tiffany Washington suggest the city was refining criteria for ‘stakeholders’ to decide the priority for camp clear outs.

Those stakeholders now have a name. They are the Unified Care Team, made up of nearly 60 individuals—according to Publicola—from various city departments and the King County Regional Homelessness Authority.

Washington said that she would make the final decision on which camps would be targeted for removal and when.

When asked to confirm the prioritization system, Harrell's spokesperson Jamie Housen told FOX 13 News the PowerPoint presentation appeared authentic and said, "The system is currently being tested and frequently refined as we learn more, to ensure the right information is driving decisions."

It’s unclear when the PowerPoint was produced, but it appears to contain information later than mid-April.

RELATED: Pilot program suggests ‘tough love’ for those refusing services at Green River encampment

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It said the number one RV encampment with the most issues was the one next to the First South Bridge in South Seattle.

"I mean it’s horrible; it’s bad, it stinks, people shouldn’t live like this," said Richard, who has lived on-and-off at the camp for years, and is staying with a friend who lives at the camp.

There’s evidence of chop shop, swarms of flying moving about the tons of visible garbage, and clearly people in behavioral distress.

"There’s drugs, prostitution, shootings, stabbings, anything you can find that’s criminal happens here," said Richard.

The camp sits on slivers of land owned by the City of Seattle, King County and the Washington State Department of Transportation. That fractured responsibility has played a role the in camp lasting for several years.