SPOKANE, Wash. — The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has issued a notice for campers near their property to vacate.
The notice expired on Monday morning. WSDOT spokesperson Ryan Overton said it's their desire and goal to have them move in a "timely and humane" way.
"We are working first to make sure the camp does not get larger," Overton said. "Our next steps will be to work with organizations who have the resources...to resolve this homelessness encampment in a way that doesn't put anyone at risk and ultimately removes it from the property."
The group first held a protest at Spokane City Hall over what they say is a lack of adequate shelter space. Homeless residents and advocates had been camping out in front of city hall for a week in hopes of encouraging the city to take action in increasing new shelters for those enduring the cold winter months.
In a notice issued last week, the City of Spokane told campers to remove their belongings from city hall property and informed them that any items left behind could be discarded. Brian Coddington, a spokesperson for the City of Spokane, explained the notice to remove property was issued due to growing safety and health concerns within the tent city protest.
"The communication that's been made with those who are out front is related to growing health and safety concerns, and considerations, both for sanitation and garbage issues, but also for the communicable diseases," Coddington said. "So COVID, but also other communicable diseases."
Code enforcement will throw out any garbage left behind, and anyone leaving personal belongings after the deadline can have code enforcement store their property. Coddington said those with property being held by code enforcement will be able to retrieve it for free.
Coddington said the city has added beds through additional shelter space as well as renting out hotel rooms, but those protesting contend it’s not enough.
"I'm moving with Jewels [Helping Hands] to a new location right now and most of them, certain ones are staying behind to finish the protest here and some are going to move to a different location to do another one there," said Shannon Jones, who took part in the protest outside of City Hall.
This comes several years after a similar protest outside city hall in December 2018. Demonstrators set up about two dozen tents in front of city hall in late November before Spokane police and city crews cleared the encampment.
Late homeless activist Alfredo Llamedo was one of those who took part in the protest. He was arrested for obstructing a law enforcement officer during the clean-up process, along with a 20-year-old man.
Organizers have referred to both protests in front of city hall as "Camp Hope."