City formulates plan to shutter downtown homeless encampment

SPOKANE, Wash. - Connecting the homeless with community services is how the City of Spokane plans to break up a controversial tent city that has been growing under I-90 over the last several weeks.

The city's plan is two-fold and involves pushing enforcement and then providing services like housing, treatment or help finding a job.

The idea is to get these people off the streets for the long run.

A tent city started forming under the freeway several weeks ago but it soon got out of control, with people defecating on the walls of nearby businesses. The city brought in three Honey Buckets to address the sanitation issue in the short term but now Spokane leaders have a long term plan to solving the homeless problem.

Spokane tent city enforcement

Right now, the Spokane homeless coalition outreach committee is collecting information from the homeless camping under the freeway to understand what thy need to get back on their feet.

"That's why this push, pull approach that's been developed has a much greater potential for being successful not just in the immediate, but in the long term as because the person won't be camping there but they also may be connected with services that they desperately need and may not have had the opportunity or the motivation to reach out for in the past," Spokane Police Major Frank Scalise said.

The city will give folks camping under the freeway 24 hours notice before officers start enforcing ordinances which make it illegal to camp without a permit, hoping the homeless people living their will voluntarily comply.

The plan will be put into action in the next week or so.