This past Monday night, over 50 Fremont neighbors attended FNC’s “Civil Conversation about Homelessness,” moderated by Fremont resident Jenny Brailey, learning from and questioning  panelists Tawny Bates, Fremont Housed Representative Concerning Impacts; August Drake-Ericson, Operations Manager for the City of Seattle Navigation Team; Tracy Cramer, Lead Clean City Inspector, SPU; Judy Gay, long-time Fremont Baptist Church Pastor (recently retired); Sgt. Mary Amberg, Seattle Police Crime Prevention Coordinator; and Fremont Unhoused Representative Maria, as they described their experiences and interactions between homeless and housed residents of Fremont, and discussed public resources being directed at the issues by various public agencies.

Service Request Resources Handout–where to go for help

Tawny Bates and several audience members reported repeated instances of escalating problems, especially near some encampments. Problems included debris, intimidation and physical threats, abandoned needles and feces on sidewalks and in yards, blood and needles in garbage cans, theft of water and electricity from outdoor hooksups, car break-ins and thefts from cars and porches, and frustrations about response times from police and city agencies. One spoke about local businesses losing customers and local buildings losing tenants. A Service Request Resource Sheet (copied below) was distributed by FNC, clarifying where to call to get help on these issues.

Several panelists and audience members also spoke about being unhoused in Fremont. Marie, who lives in an encampment in Fremont, described her community’s efforts to keep their camp safe and clean, to weed out individuals causing problems, stopping the partying, providing sharps containers. She and some neighbors near the site are trying to get a dumpster or city garbage pickup. Asked what she would need, she said, “Just help us with the garbage,” though the question from the audience seemed to be asking what she would need to leave the encampment for housing.  Retired Pastor Judy Gay talked about some unhoused individuals she worked with at Fremont Baptist: their severe health problems, their inability to tolerate the noise and bustle at a shelter, their dying because they lacked transportation to get to the transfusions the law actually guarantees for them.

City representatives August Drake-Ericson and Tracy Cramer spoke specifically about how and when the city will remove sharps (needles), about safety when residents must remove them from private property, and about the current search for a solution because needles cannot be put in city garbage but must be taken to secure sharps disposal boxes, one of which is at Canal Park and one in the North Transfer Station.  Navigation Team representative Drake-Ericson urged residents to report active crimes to 911 and other issues including porch thefts through the city’s Find it Fix it App or the Seattle Police Department’s Non-Emergency line (see below for details). She stressed that reporting helps the Navigation Team keep up with changes that may reprioritize encampments for attention. 911 can also be called to request a “welfare check” if someone seems to be suffering a mental health issue.

Mary Amberg, Seattle Police Crime Prevention Coordinator, can also be contacted to request a “welfare check” on someone. Amberg also offers security assessments to help residents make it harder to rob or trespass on private properties. She, too, talked about when to call 911 and said that if a resident is unsure whether to call, to call 911 and let dispatch decide on disposition of the call. A police officer in the audience responded to an audience question about slow response times when 911 was called at 7 pm, explaining that shift change is from 6-8:30 pm each night so fewer officers are available to respond to calls and only Priority 1 and 2 calls get quick response.

This Service Request Resource Sheet details ways to find help on a variety of problems neighbors spoke about:

  • Non-Emergency Requests: Like sharps (hypodermic needles), graffiti, garbage, litter, illegal dumping and abandoned vehicles or sites in need of Navigation Team services. Use:
  • Emergency Requests:  911 –for Police and Fire including witnessed crime (prowls, assaults, trespass,etc.), fires, medical emergency, and well being checks.
  • Seattle Police Non-Emergency (for crimes with small dollar level and where there are no known suspects). Includes property destruction, car break-ins, drug activity, and lost property.
  • Other Governmental ServicesRats – contact King County Health Department. or 206-263-9566 (answered until 4:00 pm)
  • Related Issues:
    • Abandoned Shopping Carts: inform the store identified on the cart.
    • Broken or Vandalized Dock Free Bikes: Lime Bike: 1-888-LIME-345