Last week, the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) announced that Nickelsville, a tent city homeless community, would be moving on September 1 to a vacant piece of land at 1001 S. Dearborn Street between 10th and 12th Ave. South across from the entrance to I-5 North.
In response to the announcement, Friends of Little Saigon sent a letter to the City Council and to LIHI executive director Sharon Lee asking for a delay in Nickelsville’s move. The mission of Friends of Little Saigon is to preserve and enhance Little Saigon’s cultural, economic, and historic vitality.
“While we share your vision to ‘provide homes and services to homeless and low-income adults, children, seniors, and veterans around Puget Sound,’ we are left confused and distraught by the news [of Nickelsville moving into the Little Saigon area],” Tam Nguyen said in the letter. Nguyen is the board president of Friends of Little Saigon.
The letter had concerns about LIHI’s process and communication, which Friends of Little Saigon said left the community with “virtually no time” to assess the potential impact and give thoughtful input.
Friends of Little Saigon also expressed concerns regarding cultural sensitivity and consideration.
The letter stated: “Friends of Little Saigon, along with its many constituents and stakeholders, have worked tirelessly in the past five years to improve conditions in and the image of Little Saigon. Yet, we continue to face many obstacles, such as socio-economic inequities, social stigmas, public safety, etc. Adding another level of complexity in the mix would only create further conflicts and problems.”
Nguyen also had questions related to strategic planning, such as what studies were done to assess the impacts on surrounding businesses and community and what other sites were considered.
LIHI said Nickelsville’s term at the new location will be initially six months, but may be extended an additional six months. A condition of Nickelsville is for the residents to donate at least one hour per week per person to the Chinatown ID community.
LIHI is hosting an informational briefing on Tuesday, August 26 at 7:00 p.m. at 2010 S. Jackson St.