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Spokane Vows Not To Displace Homeless At City Hall For Now

Jared Brown

Spokane city officials backed away today [Monday] from a threat to remove the belongings of homeless people camped outside of City Hall.

As many as two dozen people had set up camp there during the last week. They were protesting the city’s announcement that it would enforce an ordinance that forbids people from sitting or sleeping on sidewalks. They argue the so-called Sit-Lie ordinance allows people to occupy the sidewalks if there’s no shelter space. They say that is the case now that the House of Charity has reduced its number of available beds.

A notice had been posted at City Hall over the weekend that the campers would have until 9:30 this morning to move their stuff.

Spokane Public Radio’s Jared Brown was down there to see what happened.

“About 9:25, there was a dump truck and pickup truck around the corner that was waiting and people assumed that was the litter crew waiting to come at 9:30," Brown reported.

"All the protestors joined hands around all of everybody’s sleeping bags and belongings to protect that and they stayed that way about 15 minutes until nothing happened and they relaxed. One city official came out and did some media interviews and they said Mayor Condon and Council President Ben Stuckart were in a meeting about what was going to happen and that somebody would be coming down and that ended up being the director of CHHS, Kelly Keenan, to talk with them.”

CHHS is Community Housing and Human Services. Keenan told the campers there was a misunderstanding. He says the Sit Lie law would not be enforced until more beds are available and that campers will be allowed to sleep outside City Hall for the time being. He says the purpose of the notice was to get people to move so their space could be cleaned.

The city council is expected to make an announcement tonight regarding the opening of new warming centers.