Steve Shay
"Nickelodean" Donna Beavers met her husband Bruce at a Nickelsville encampment near the university and they married six months ago. Now, they, Cubby their year-old dachshund, and others are at an encampment adjacent to the Nickelsville that police raided last Sept. 26.

Nickelsville redux

Nickelsville, a homeless encampment of attention-getting pink tents, makeshift kitchen, bathrooms and showers, has returned to the vacant triangular lot it occupied for three days last September before police raided and evicted its homeless residents.

Its name was meant as a jab to Seattle's mayor who those residents and their homeless organizers felt was to blame for running a city without enough shelters. Nickelsville moved for a week onto an adjacent parking lot, then to Discovery Park's Daybreak Star, the University Christian Church, Congregational Church UCC, and Bryn Mawr United Methodist Church before returning to its original spot.

The shelter is again on land enclosed by West Marginal Way Southwest, Highland Park Way Southwest, and 2nd Avenue Southwest. This time, however, Nickelsville sits on state land, an adjacent parcel to the city land it occupied Sept. 23to 26 of last year.

Residents and organizers said because they are on state land they are hoping Gov. Chris Gregoire will trump the mayor and let them stay.

And while homelessness is not a new problem in Seattle, it is a new problem for some Nickelsville residents who are former homeowners evicted after losing their jobs.

"I managed the Acme Food Sales Warehouse near here," said Bruce Beavers, 48, who calls himself and other residents at Nickelsville "Nickelodeans." He also managed a Dollar Tree in Federal Way, then McLendon Hardware Store in White Center.

"My house started going into forclosure," he said. "I bought it in 2003 in Burien. The mortgage company wanted too much good faith money at one time to restructure a loan. Lots of my friends with houses are looking at foreclosure. People in the middle and lower classes don't want to hit the ground. Nickelsville is here to help before it gets to that point.

"Homelessness was new to me. I just didnt know how to deal with it, with low self esteem. I had the house, the motorcycles, credit cards. I had all of it. When I lost it, it felt like a hurricane snatching everything from me. It leaves you depressed. I drifted on the streets, then got married. Nickelsville helped my wife and me, and helped my self esteem."

Veterans for Peace in Seattle is sponsoring the encampment, according to associate member Peggy Hotes, who lives in a silver tent in Nickelsville. She recalled when it was first named "Shanty Town."

"This all started over a year ago when mayor Nickels developed a protocol for encampment sweeps," she said. "And there's a severe shortage of shelter beds. Tent cities are sprouting up in every city all over the country. Ours is orderly. We have a list of rules. If you violate them, you are barred. Knives over 3 inches are barred. So is language that diminishes minorities. You cannot smoke in your tent. I think Gov. Gregoire is more sympathetic to the homeless and our encampment than mayor Nickels."

"This place gave me a home away from home.," said William Lester, Jr. "I have a little family here. We stick together. I've able to stay away from drugs. I got addicted to heroin. Thanks to my family here I kicked it for nine months now. This is a place to put my stuff. I don't have to roam the streets. I want to work and I'm getting back on my feet. If this place wasn't here I'd still be out on the streets shooting dope."

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