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Washington DOT, Commerce say they won’t dismantle Camp Hope cooling tent

The Washington State Department of Transportation said Friday it would not dismantle or move a cooling tent that’s been put up at the Camp Hope site in eastern Spokane.

The tent was set up this week by homelessness advocacy group Jewels Helping Hands. It contains large fans and misters for the relief of the roughly 600 people living at Camp Hope. The city says the tent is illegally operating without a permit. Wednesday, the city asked WSDOT whether or not it sanctioned the cooling center, because it’s on state property. That message also indicated the city would fine the department every day the tent remains after Monday morning.

The city said it prefers the Camp Hope residents go to one of Spokane’s four public libraries to cool off, though the libraries are not open 24-7 and the nearest one is more than a mile from the camp.

In its response, issued Friday afternoon, WSDOT and the Washington Department of Commerce said they would not remove the tent, and said the safety and well-being of people is the agencies’ primary concern.

The statement also referenced the larger issue of homelessness in Spokane, saying that the state has asked the city repeatedly to find "constructive solutions" to chronic homelessness while meeting safety and health standards.

"We are hopeful the city administration and city council will coalesce behind a plan," the statement read. "Until then, we will continue to review other local proposals submitted last week and allow non-profit organizations to continue helping individuals in need.”

Brandon Hollingsworth is your All Things Considered host. He has served public radio audiences for fifteen years, primarily in reporting, hosting and interviewing. His previous ports-of-call were WUOT-FM in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Alabama Public Radio. His work has been heard nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here and Now and NPR’s top-of-the-hour newscasts.