International District residents march on City Hall to stop homeless shelter, services hub

Residents of the Chinatown-International District marched to Seattle City Hall on Tuesday to protest the building of a block-long homeless services complex.

The complex consists of a homeless shelter, tiny house village, and drug, alcohol and behavior treatment centers.

About 100 people packed the City Council chambers during their weekly meeting to voice their concerns during the public comment period. About 60 members—some speaking in their native language, translated by an interpreter—told the council of the crime that’s been associated with people living on the street.

They want the council to delay the county’s efforts until their concerns are heard.

"I am horrified to learn that the government is going to put a problematic shelter very close to Chinatown," business owner Jimmy told the council through an interpreter.

King County Executive Dow Constantine announced plans for the SODO Services Hub in March, and the County has been working to construct it ever since.

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"We are working urgently to bring people in off the streets," Constantine said Monday.

But many residents who don’t speak English said they didn’t know about the hub until recently, and the county has not consulted them on their plans or asked for their input.

"They break into the beauty school five times, all I do is cry and get depressed," said Kim Nguyen, who owns the Vuu Beauty School in the CID.

She wanted to tell council members and Constantine about the crime that surrounds shelters in the CID.

"And he tries to build another shelter, and the smaller one you cannot take care of?" said Nguyen. "And you can take care of the big one? No way, No way."

Constantine and Leo Flor, the county’s head of homeless services projects, met with members of the CID on Monday, and we are told by a person who was there and did not want to be identified that "it did not go well."

"We asked for a moratorium, we invited Dow and Leo to come to the community and talk to the business owners and no answer," said Tanya Woo, a CID business owner who attended the meeting.

One notable person marching from the CID with the residents to City Hall was Mike Solan, the president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild.

He said he supports the neighbors call for a moratorium and echoes their complaints about public safety in the CID.

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"This public safety situation will be exacerbated, if you to put [the hub] in the CID without the residents input whatsoever.

When asked if he would honor the residents call for a moratorium, Constantine backtracked a bit on a Monday.

"Although we did outreach in the SODO neighborhood, as well as the adjacent neighborhoods of Pioneer Square and the Chinatown-International District, that was not enough," said Constantine.