Plan to expand homeless shelter near Seattle’s Chinatown dropped after protests

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  • Chinatown-International District residents cheered the Friday announcement that King County, Seattle, will no longer pursue the planned expansion of the homeless shelter in the SODO neighborhood.
  • The proposal to increase the Salvation Army's Lighthouse Shelter’s capacity to accommodate 150 more people was heavily opposed by community members.
  • Residents who joined protesters expressed concerns that the county was not fully equipped to handle the expanded services nor the potential increase in crime that may arise from the influx of homeless people.
  • While King County’s announcement to rescind the plan came as a surprise to the concerned communities, they felt it was a step in the right direction.
  • “We’re not done yet. We’re asking for community engagement and outreach, as well as a public safety plan, this whole time we have not received one yet,” Woo said.

Chinatown-International District (CID) residents flocked to Hing Hay Park in Seattle on Saturday following the announcement that the planned homeless shelter expansion in the SODO neighborhood will no longer push through. 

King County announced Friday that it will no longer expand a homeless shelter in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood near the International District — composed of Chinatown, Little Saigon and Japantown — after pushback from residents and business owners.

The planned expansion, which proposed accommodations for an additional 150 people at Salvation Army’s Lighthouse Shelter, faced heavy opposition from community members in the last several weeks. 

Residents participated in multiple protests between September and October to condemn the proposal they said they were never consulted about. 

Protesters expressed concerns that the county was not fully equipped to handle such expanded services nor the potential increase in crime that may arise from the influx of homeless people. 

Violent crime reports in Seattle have climbed from 175 in 2020 to nearly 250 in 2021 in the CID. In 2022, over 200 violent crime calls have been reported. 

Now that the plan is shelved, the money previously intended for the expansion can potentially be used for other projects that provide access to shelter or housing, pending the King County Council’s approval. 

While Friday’s announcement to rescind the plan came as a surprise to the concerned communities, they felt it was a step in the right direction. 

“I was very shocked because it’s something we weren’t expecting,” said CID advocate Matt Chan. “We’re in it for the fight and we won.” 

“While we have kind of tackled a big hurdle for the future, there’s still a lot of past harm that needs to be repaired from the current shelter that went in without our lived experiences needs to be addressed regarding public safety,” CID volunteer Tanya Woo noted.

CID advocates and other community members are set to participate in another rally at the end of the month and speak with King County Council members to highlight the need for community engagement and outreach.

“We’re not done yet,” Woo added. “We’re asking for community engagement and outreach, as well as a public safety plan, this whole time we have not received one yet.”

 

Featured Image via Fox 13 Seattle

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