WSDOT tells campers to leave property at 2nd and Ray

SPOKANE, Wash – “Camp Hope” is now in a race against time.

On Friday, the campers received a notice from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to vacate the lot on 2nd and Ray. That expired Monday morning.

Jewel’s Helping Hands, which is operating Camp Hope, says there is nowhere for the people to go.

“Those tents are the only thing keeping them alive right now, that’s it,” said Julie Garcia, who runs Jewel’s Helping Hands. “That’s all we care about, is maintaining their possessions until there’s something better.”

The majority of the people at Camp Hope are women and couples who don’t want to be separated. Garcia claims they have moved those they could to shelters.

“Even if I was to take nine of them to Truth tonight, which I will attempt to and the four to House of Charity tonight, there’s still 70 plus people living here,” she said.

The city said there were 78 beds for all different groups, including low-barrier beds Monday night.

WSDOT, in response to Camp Hope wrote in a statement:

“Regarding the encampment near I-90 on WSDOT property. It’s our desire and goal, related to homeless camps, to have them removed in a timely and humane way from WSDOT right of way. We (WSDOT) are not an organization that deals with social services, nor do we have law enforcement resources.

We are working first to make sure the camp does not get larger.  Our next steps will be to work with organizations who have the resources mentioned above to resolve this homeless encampment in a way that doesn’t put anyone at risk and ultimately removes it from the property.

To date we have posted the 72-hour notice to Jewel Helping Hands.

We are sensitive to both the neighbors and those in the camp and hope that through our collaboration with all parties, that there can be a positive and timely outcome for all.

If the encampment becomes a safety issue, we will reevaluate and take action at that time.”

RELATED: Former Spokane City Council member sues city over homelessness crisis

On Monday, Stephen Eugster, attorney and former Spokane City Council member filed a lawsuit against the city regarding the homelessness crisis in Spokane. He wants more from the city than just the beds that are available at shelters.

“The city is not providing warmth, and food, and dignity to people who are homeless,” Eugster said. “They’re not.”

Eugster in the lawsuit, recalls an encounter he had in 2019 with a homeless man who showed up at his home in Browne’s Addition. The man who was freezing, didn’t have a place to go.

“When you see that happen, seeing a person going to die of hypothermia, it’s terrible,” he said. “You just can’t believe we would subject anyone to that.”

He is demanding the city provide better accommodations.

“How about like a fraternity house, where everybody has a room, where they have a place to live,” Eugster suggested. “They have a house mother, or a house man that kind of keeps control.”

The city said they would not comment on the lawsuit.

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