Seattle Has A Huge Homeless RV Problem

Estimated read time 3 min read

Frustration on both sides seems to only be growing.

Seattle has no shortage of social problems. We’ve covered before the car theft problem in the city and highlighted what appears to be a gross lack of training among its police. But there’s another issue that’s been festering for some time, and it’s only getting worse. Hundreds, possibly thousands of RVs being used as primary housing line the streets in different sections of the city as the government struggles to find a solution.

Watch a felon lead police on what’s literally a high-flying chase here.

The city has been working to remove RVs lining the streets in different neighborhoods as residents complain about sidewalks filled with garbage, sewage dumped in random spots, and other difficult problems. As one might imagine, many of the RV occupants aren’t pleased when they learn it’s time to move their vehicles. Some don’t have any gas, a functioning battery, or other elements necessary to move their RV even a few feet, let alone to another part of the city.

When the city tows the abandoned RVs, they end up at Lincoln Towing, which is located in North Seattle, as covered by local news station KOMO. However, the owner says not only are the RVs loaded with bacteria and rodents, people break into his tow lot to rummage through the vehicles in a quest for hidden narcotics.

Thanks to red tape, disposing of those RVs takes months and they’re piling up. But the claim is this and other efforts are making a significant dent in the number of RV encampments scattered around Seattle. But the concern is that is only pushing people to walk the streets instead of getting them in permanent housing.

Residents in some neighborhoods, frustrated by inaction from the city, have taken matters into their own hands. They’ve been hiring crews to drop concrete blocks, sometimes chained together, as a way to prevent anyone from parking on the street.

A new RV-friendly parking lot is supposed to open up sometime this month. There’s been talk of such a project for at least a couple of years, although the size and nature of the plan seems to have evolved. Not everyone believes it’s a fitting solution, claiming similar programs in other cities have been adject failures.

So far, the plan has run into all kinds of roadblocks. Originally, the lot was going to open at the beginning of the year since funding has been ready since last summer. As covered by The Seattle Times, $1.9 million was awarded to The Low Income Housing Institute by King County Regional Homelessness Authority by default since it was the only group to apply to run the RV-friendly lot.

The problem with these so-called “safe lots” is they can quickly devolve into a magnet for drug use, violence, and other illegal activity, putting any workers charged with maintaining them at risk. Just like on the streets lined with RVs, refuse and hazardous materials can pile up faster than they can be disposed of. In other words, the lots might not solve any problems, only relocate them.

Those who stay at the safe lot in Seattle will have access to housing case workers, mental health counselors, plus substance abuse counselors. But will that help them turn their lives around? Opinions about the problem and this dimension of a potential solution are divided with plenty of hot emotions to go around.

Images via Google Maps

Steven Symes

Steven Symes is an accomplished automotive journalist with a passion for all things related to cars. His extensive knowledge and love for the automotive world shine through in his writing, which covers a diverse range of topics.

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