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Advocates for homeless people set up encampment outside Spokane City Hall

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Advocates for people who are homeless have pitched tents in the shadow of Spokane City Hall. They’re putting pressure on a city government they say has done too little to help people who live on the streets. Julie Garcia from Jewels’ Helping Hands says the timing of this encampment is related to a recent event.
“About three days ago, the police were set to move a camp of 50 people. Clearly we have no beds for those 50 people," she said.

Credit Doug Nadvornick/SPR
A sign at the tent camp calls attention to the lack of available shelter beds in Spokane.

The planned move was apparently not carried out. But Garcia says the episode reinforces the advocates’ argument that the city’s plans for dealing with people on the streets this winter is inadequate. She says the tent camp is a high-profile way of pressuring the city to act, even if it means getting out of the way and letting advocates take over.
“Can there be a place that it is safe to be houseless without being criminalized? Whatever that looks like. There are so many different kinds of solution. This isn’t the only one. But we need solutions," she said.
Garcia says the advocates will keep their tents pitched outside City Hall until officials say they must move.
We asked a city spokesman how the city would react to the encampment, and whether officials planned to meet with its organizers. No response yet.