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State issuing new identification to Camp Hope residents

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Courtesy of Sandra Najera
Washington State Department of Licensing, and the Washington State Department of Health staff are on the site of Camp Hope this week issuing new ID cards and birth certificates for residents, many of who have lost, or had the documents stolen.

Staff from the Washington State Department of Health and the Department of Licensing are on the site of the site of Camp Hope this week.

They’re issuing new birth certificates and state ID cards to the residents of the state’s largest homeless encampment, located in Spokane’s East Central neighborhood next to Interstate 90.

Sandra Najera, the community outreach manager for the Department of Licensing, said many people who are homeless have lost, or had their primary documents stolen. She said many programs that might offer a pathway out of homelessness require a valid ID to participate.

“Having those physical documents is such a critical first step for these residents of Camp Hope to be able to access those services, and to be able to qualify for housing,” she said.

The non-profit helping those staying the camp, Jewels Helping Hands, previously surveyed the camp, and found the vast majority of residents didn’t have any identification documents.

Najera said the program is the first of its kind in the state, and may expand elsewhere. So far her team has been able to issue more than 60 new identification documents to camp residents. They’ll hold another ID event the next two Wednesdays.

The Department of Health’s efforts to offer primary documents is funded by a grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce to the Empire Health Foundation, which is leading efforts to find housing for those staying in the camp.

Local city, and county officials have said they want the camp cleared as soon as possible, but state agencies have said they have the legal authority to continue their efforts to gradually reduce the footprint of the camp.