Why not try real solutions?
Spokane could just decide to love its community more. Everyone wants less crime, but leaning on police to do all the work just creates more prisoners. We need to actually invest in our community; in each other.
This morning, I joined a coworker to deliver some supplies to Camp Hope 2.0, which currently consists of a few dozen tents set up in rows outside Spokane City Hall Downtown. The camp has assembled in response to city policy which continues to sweep unhoused people from viaducts and other places where they have found shelter from the elements despite a lack of adequate indoor shelter.
When homeless camps are swept, not only are the people in them displaced, but their belongings are often confiscated or trashed. This includes bus passes, personal identification documents, and survival gear such as tents, blankets, and sleeping bags. In theory people can call 311 to retrieve belongings lost in a sweep. Many people aren’t aware of this option, however, and in practice these belongings are often lost forever either because they were never retrieved, or because they were deemed trash by city employees executing the sweep.
At City Hall, my coworker and I witnessed an orderly camp. Many people were packing up their belongings, folks were coming and going. Much of the activity was due to the 48hr notice posted last night, giving camp residents until Thursday morning to leave, or be removed by city code enforcement officials. Julie Garcia of Jewel’s Helping Hands was on site and told us there had been a community meeting of approximately 160 people last night. Three choices were discussed:
Despite claims from Mayor Woodward’s administration that those remaining outdoors simply aren’t taking advantage of available resources, according to Spokesman reporting by Adam Shanks, there simply aren’t enough beds to meet the need represented by the residents protesting and living at Camp Hope 2.0.
Shanks writes, “According to the city’s shelter capacity reports, there were no beds available this weekend at low-barrier shelters for women, and no beds available at the city’s only low-barrier coed shelter. [Julie] -Garcia estimates that there are more than 100 people camped outside City Hall.”
Meanwhile, Jason Green—also of Jewel’s Helping Hands—has reached out to Brian Coddington, Director of Communications and Marketing for the City of Spokane, in an email thread shared with community organizers, advocates, and local media. In it he personally offered $500 “to a City Funded Shelter if you can provide details as to where these 91-100 low barrier beds exist. If you can, not only will I donate the $500 but Jewels Helping Hands will immediately start filling those beds with the hundreds of people sleeping on our streets which will improve the downtown optics.” This proposed donation has received three matching offers, but neither Coddington, nor the city, has yet to take it up.
When my coworker and I visited Camp Hope this morning, one of the things we delivered were printed copies of a flier provided by homelessness advocate Joan Medina for residents to place on their tent.
It appeals to the constitution to argue that Camp Hope 2.0 should be allowed to stay.
When we asked what else folks could do to help we were told, “Just come and sit with us. Be here with us.”
The residents at Camp Hope are asking for solidarity, supplies, and support. If you can spend time at Camp Hope 2.0, you are welcome. Food, hot drinks, hand and foot warmers, and other supplies to help people survive the freezing cold are also welcome. The most recent and accurate appeals for specific supplies are available on the Jewels Helping Hands Facebook pages. And of course, call and email Mayor Woodward, City Manager Johnnie Perkins. Ask them to materialize the indoor beds they claim are available or provide city land where people can stay and experience some stability without fear of being swept away again.