STOP THE SWEEPS – HOMELESSNESS IS NOT A CRIME
WE, CONCERNED CITIZENS OF THE CITY OF SPOKANE AND SPOKANE REGION, IN ORDER TO RECOGNIZE OUR SHARED HUMANITY WITH PEOPLE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS, DEMAND OF OUR CITY AND COUNTY OFFICIALS:
1) Stop the Sweeps, effective immediately. Suspend enforcement of all current laws that target and criminalize people experiencing homelessness and confiscate their personal belongings and life-saving gear.
2) Provide 24/7 adequately serviced public toilets and handwashing stations throughout downtown and near known areas where people are sheltering in place outdoors. These could be portable stations. The important piece is that these stations are plentiful, strategically placed and frequently serviced.
3) Provide trash receptacles and regular collection service near known areas where people are sheltering in place outdoors. This should include safe sharps disposal containers.
4) Provide large storage lockers or units for people experiencing homelessness to secure their belongings and gear during the day so that camps can be more easily dismantled during the day, and people would feel more comfortable seeking food, work, and other services.
5) Identify areas of public property where sheltering in vehicles and camping is not criminalized now and in the future. Locations could include empty lots or undeveloped park areas. Consider leasing unused public land for $1 per year for a certain number of years, like Thurston County did for Quixote Village.
6) Provide plentiful, low-barrier day centers for men and for co-ed mixed use, in addition to already existing shelters for women and youth, so that everyone has someplace to go during the day year around. Ideally, a day center would have toilets, sinks, showers, laundry services, recharging stations, internet stations, wi-fi service, large storage lockers, coffee and even snacks or other food provided.
ADDITIONALLY, we encourage the City and County to look for overall solutions that work to reduce homelessness using the Housing First model, rather than continue an endless expenditure of funds on fruitless and dehumanizing enforcement; and
ADDITIONALLY, in order to reach the goals laid out in the Five-Year Plan, we encourage the Regional Continuum of Care to update these concerns into the strategies to end homelessness; and
ADDITIONALLY, in alignment with the Continuum of Care’s Five-Year Plan action item 5.5.4 (lived experience feedback) we encourage the City and County to include the voices and ideas of people currently experiencing homelessness, and those who have experienced such in the past, because decisions made by those at the top do not always reflect or address the needs of those most affected; and
IN CONCLUSION, we recognize the City and County’s efforts to support local business and the citizens of the Spokane region, upon which funding for housing and human services depends; and
recognize the additional challenges the City and County has faced in regards to COVID; and
hope that our requests can be addressed in a timely manner as the numbers of people on the street are bound to increase with economic fallout from the pandemic; and
hope that we can work together to provide critically needed service to one of the most vulnerable segments of our community.
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