A rising homeless population is testing this historically liberal city.

For the last three years, Erica Semrau has lived in and out of tent encampments around Seattle, often finding shelter underneath I-90 just east of the city. But her makeshift home has increasingly come under threat.

Driven by concerns over unsanitary conditions and crime in Seattle’s homeless encampments—including two homicides this year in one called the Jungle—officials have targeted these tent cities by confiscating residents’ belongings and sometimes bringing in bulldozers to clear away anything that’s left. Semrau and the thousands of others who live in the camps scatter when the sweeps occur, but they keep returning and rebuilding their temporary shelters, often the very next day. They say the city has given them no other option.

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