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Spokane County, city leaders declare Camp Hope an emergency

The city of Spokane, and Spokane County have declared the 400-person homeless encampment next to I-90 an emergency.

That declaration means the county doesn’t have to do public hearings, or a competitive bidding process to spend money on camp issues.

Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward said the city will ramp up their newest homeless shelter on Trent Avenue house most of the camp’s residents.

“It’s bringing people inside in a temporary situation, connected to services, meals, showers, restrooms, and then having them have a temporary space while they are waiting eventually for the housing options that will come their way, rather than being in a field, in a tent, with frozen ground and snow falling around them,” Woodward said.

There are already 150 people staying at the Trent shelter. Woodward said the building was always planned to have capacity up to 250, and even higher during emergencies.

City and County leaders said they plan to have the camp taken down by November 15.

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said his goal was not to involve law enforcement in removing the camp, but said if people choose not to leave by the deadline, he may.

“Once we get to that level of, they're called housing resistant, then we're going to switch too 'if you don't choose to move, we're going to move you,” he said.

Spokane County Commissioner Mary Kuney said city and county are still discussing how much expanding capacity at the Trent Avenue shelter will cost, and how to fund the project.

The camp, known as Camp hope is located on Washington State Department of Transportation land. In a statement, state leaders called the declaring redundant. They said they’re already providing services and housing connections to those staying in the camp, and the county and city can participate as soon as they drop their legal filings.

Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl has issued a notice of chronic nuisance on the property, and the county has sued the state seeking to declare the property a nuisance.