People camping outside Spokane City Hall told to vacate by Thursday

SPOKANE, Wash. — People who have been camping outside of Spokane City Hall have been told they must vacate the area by Thursday.

They have been staying in tents on the sidewalk since Friday as part of a protest by Jewel’s Helping Hands.

The notice said all property must be removed from the area or it may be discarded by the city. City Spokesman Brian Coddington said the people are allowed to stay and protest, just not camp.

The protest comes over the debate about low-barrier bed space in Spokane.

“We’re asking for more transparency about the actual number of low-barrier beds, and what is defined as low-barrier beds, and third, there has to be more options,” said Julie Garcia, who runs Jewel’s.

They’ve proposed their own solution.

“We leaned in, with an offer to the city,” Garcia said. “If they provided a space of land, then Jewels Helping Hands and the community would fund a tent city for four months until the city was able to open up something better.”

They claim there is no place for those camping outside to go.

“We have to have a central location of real, accurate bed availability, specifically for these people experiencing homelessness,” she said.

Spokane city leaders say that is not true, noting there has been widespread availability for the past few days.

To address transparency, Mayor Nadine Woodward said there will be a dashboard launching in early 2022 to show the number of available beds.

“It will be accessible to of course. Not just the providers who input the data in that dashboard, but also other service providers, who do outreach on our streets, police officers or even the general public,” the mayor said.

The city has continuously added and is adding more resources, including more space for victims of domestic violence and teenagers.

Addressing the housing and homelessness crisis is a priority for the mayor.

“I announced a housing emergency last summer, and listed actionable items that we could do to facilitate more building of units,” Mayor Woodward said. “And more building of housing of all income levels.”

Campers will need to have their belongings removed from the area by 10:46 a.m. on Thursday.

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