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Concerns Rise Over North Seattle Encampment Near Middle School

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With Seattle public schools starting back up in less than a month, there is growing concern about an encampment exploding in size at the corner of North 90th Street and Nesbit Avenue.

The encampment is just a one-minute walk from Robert Eagle Staff Middle School and is taking up entire sidewalks.

The tents and structures are located behind Aurora Commons drop-in center for the homeless and have been there for more than four months.

Staff at Aurora Commons say authorities have responded to shootings at the encampment and that open-air drug use is a regular occurrence in the parking lot.

Grant, a homeless man in the encampment only wants me to use his first name and says he’s trying to avoid any problems.

When I ask him what he’ll do if the city comes to clear the encampment, he says he’ll “just cross that bridge when it gets here.”

But the encampment is also hosting some unsavory characters in this north Seattle neighborhood. Keira Terchowitz lives on the block and confronted a man in one of the tents, accusing him of flashing her at a bus stop on Aurora Avenue.

He hurled some obscenities at her in response.

“You were pretty brave to confront him right now,” I remark to her, “that’s kind of risky don’t you think?” Terchowitz responds that she doesn’t think it was risky and has “no issue with that.”

This encampment is also home to people like Teslynn Bratcher who says she, “ran away from domestic violence.”

Some people are desperate to get off of the streets and are waiting in line for the right housing situation to become available.

“I’m calling constantly for tiny homes and availabilities where I can be safe,” says Bratcher.

It remains unclear if or when the city will come by to clear the street, but many neighbors are hoping it happens before the start of the school year. 

Jonathan Choe

Journalist and Senior Fellow, Center on Wealth and Poverty
Jonathan Choe is a journalist and Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute's Center on Wealth and Poverty, covering homelessness issues for its Fix Homelessness initiative. Prior to joining Discovery, Choe spent several years as one of the lead reporters at KOMO-TV, consistently the top rated television station in Seattle. His in depth stories on crime and deep dive investigations into the homeless crisis led to measurable results in the community, including changes in public policy. Choe has more than two decades of experience in television news behind the scenes and in front of the camera for ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, and Tribune. He has also been nominated and honored with multiple industry awards including an Emmy. Choe spent several years teaching classes on emerging media and entrepreneurship to under privileged youth in inner city Chicago. As an independent journalist, Choe also contributes regularly to the Mill Creek View and Lynnwood Times and has reported on exclusive stories in the past year for Daily Wire and The Postmillennial.