Stop the Sweeps - Spokane
Stop the Sweeps - Spokane
Homelessness is not a crime. Not only does the criminalization and sweeps of unhoused individuals NOT solve the condition of homelessness, those who are consistently forced to relocate, with or without a citation, are repeatedly traumatized by this experience. These individuals who are already suffering from extreme poverty are told to move along but there is no legal place outdoors where they can shelter or rest, and often their life-saving gear is seized. Written notice and due process is rarely provided. All of this makes it more difficult to survive, connect with services, and exit homelessness.
There are not enough shelter beds or day center space to accommodate all who are unsheltered. And many individuals are not able to use the congregate spaces available due to many factors, including trauma, sobriety, religious, accessibility issues, health and safety concerns, fees, ID, separation from loved ones, etc.
We urge the City and County of Spokane to recognize our shared humanity with people experiencing homelessness and immediately STOP THE SWEEPS. Identify public spaces for sheltering outdoors, and provide day centers and storage for people to rest and go about daily activities without fear of having their personal belongings confiscated or stolen. Further, the city should provide trash receptacles and services, public toilets and hand washing stations to promote public health and safety. These goals are urgently needed and can be achieved immediately, within a few weeks. We call for swift action by our officials to stop the inhumane treatment of people experiencing homelessness and improve our community for all.
Please see the Stop the Sweeps – Homelessness is Not a Crime petition below and our website for further details: stopthesweepsspokane.org
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.