Hearing to consider temporary camps for Tacoma's homeless

kate.martin@thenewstribune.comJanuary 22, 2014 

Tacoma’s Planning Commission is taking comments Wednesday on a proposed city law that would allow nonprofit organizations to host temporary homeless camps.

Camps are in place in Seattle and Olympia, but Tacoma does not yet have an ordinance to address how temporary camps should be permitted and run.

A state law passed in 2010 allows religious organizations to host such camps on private property. So far, no religious organization in Tacoma has proposed such a camp.

Last year the city removed a number of unauthorized homeless camps, many of them on public property or heavily forested areas.

The ordinance would put in place public safety requirements for proposed temporary homeless camps, limit the number of homeless residents to 100 people, and prohibit camps from remaining in one place for more than 93 days. Camps would also have to have a sight-obscuring fence around them and could not house sex offenders.

Councilwoman Lauren Walker said the ordinance was reviewed in the city’s Neighborhoods and Housing Committee late last year.

“The city has an extensive array of homeless services,” she said. “Though we are not currently in need of additional encampment services, we want to make sure the options are available.”

Puyallup and University Place also passed rules governing homeless camps after the state law took effect. Churches have not set up camps in either city.

The public hearing begins at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the City Council Chambers on the first floor, 747 Market St.

For more information, visit cityoftacoma.org/planning and click on “Temporary Homeless Camps.”

Kate Martin: 253-597-8542 kate.martin@thenewstribune.com

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