Seattle Jewish cemetery files claim with city over homeless damage

Seattle Jewish cemetery files claim with city over homeless damage

Bikur Cholim sues for $230,000 to cover cleaning up needles, discarded drug paraphernalia, and human feces from graveyard, arguing municipality should do more to protect site

Bikur Cholim cemetery in Seattle. (Google maps)
Bikur Cholim cemetery in Seattle. (Google maps)

Officials of a Jewish cemetery in north Seattle have filed a claim against the city, saying its inaction against the problems caused by the homeless living in it have cost it hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The claim for $230,000 was filed Monday by Bikur Cholim cemetery board member Ari Hoffman.

Hoffman last month told local media that headstones have been defaced and that needles and other discarded drug paraphernalia, as well as human feces, have been found on and among the tombstones. Hoffman also said that prostitutes use the woods behind the cemetery for their clients.

The claim is for costs associated with cleaning up the cemetery and reparing damage done by the homeless people living on its grounds.

The Bikur Cholim cemetery has gravesites going back to the Civil War as well as recent burials.

Across the street, the Historic Sephardic Jewish Cemetery is experiencing similar vandalism.

Hoffman said that pleas to the city to remove people living in RVs and tents by the cemetery have fallen on deaf ears.

“My dad is a Holocaust survivor, he’s buried in this cemetery and he doesn’t deserve this,” Fox affiliate Q-13 quoted a woman visiting the cemetery as saying.

The next step will be a class action lawsuit against the city, Hoffman said.

The nearly $230,000 has been spent on clearing woods and installing lights on the grounds to discourage people from camping there, as well as hiring people to clean up the graveyard, monitor the grounds, and deal with day-to-day issues.

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