Rather than arrest first and look for social services later, the City of Spokane has formalized an agreement to help homeless campers find alternative housing rather than jailing them, according to a city press release on Thursday.
“Our goal is always to provide services to those in need first,” says Jonathan Mallahan, the city’s Division Director for Community & Neighborhood Services which is leading the City’s efforts. “But we will enforce City ordinances that prohibit camping on public or private property without a permit, if individuals are unwilling to accept help, in order to protect public health and safety for those within illegal camps and the community surrounding them.”
On Thursday the City of Spokane, announced that it would collaborate with the Spokane Homeless Coalition’s Interagency Outreach Committee to offer housing and social services to individuals who are camping on public property.
The city will provide a minimum of 24 hours’ notice before proceeding with any enforcement action, which would require the removal of tents, tent structures, and solid waste. The Spokane Police Department will manage the enforcement of city ordinances with the support of city code enforcement.
The city adopted ordinances that require permits for camping on public or private land in support of that strategy including plans regarding:
- Handling solid waste and wastewater
- Providing fresh water
- Managing cooking fires
- Addressing security concerns
The camping issue is an ongoing situation as individuals have chosen to set up non-permitted camping sites under and near the I-90 viaduct in downtown. During that time, the city has been working to connect individuals with services, according to the press release.