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After 2018 protest, Spokane residents advocate for homeless resources with tents outside City Hall

About 116 people and 69 tents are outside of Spokane City Hall advocating for more shelter space for the city's homelessness population.

SPOKANE, Wash. — More than 100 people have gathered in tents outside of Spokane City Hall to protest what they say is a lack of adequate shelter space.

Jewels Helping Hands, a nonprofit organization focused on providing basic needs for the houseless and housing insecure, is organizing the protest. Julie Garcia of Jewels Helping Hands said Monday that there are 116 people and 69 tents outside of city hall.

This comes several years after a similar protest outside city hall in December 2018. Demonstrators set up about two dozens 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.

According to a press release from Jewels Helping Hands on Dec. 10, the protest aims to encourage the city to take action in increasing new shelters for homeless residents enduring the cold weather.

The nonprofit says the city's administration decided to eliminate shelter beds this year. The problem is not a lack of money to help build shelter beds, it is a "lack of willingness" of the city to act, Jewels Helping Hands said in the press release. 

"The City has received over $80 million from the Federal CARES Act that can and should be used for this issue," Jewels Helping Hands said in a press release. "The state offered million more this month and out city officials did not even apply for the funds."

The nonprofit says they didn't see any option other than encouraging all homeless residents to set up a camp outside city hall and the protest will continue 24 hours daily until the city takes action.

"The community should understand that should the city try to disband this protest without creating a space for the homeless, the message they are sending is they do not want to see the problem and it is better left under our bridges or within our residential areas," Jewels Helping Hands said in the press release. 

The nonprofit is looking to accomplish several things from this protest, including increasing the amount of indoor shelter space and resources for those operating the shelters and adding new shelters available during the winter or a plot of a land dedicated to the homeless.

"There is a common ground among all parties involved. We all agree people sleeping outside is not good, not good for humanity, not good for business, not good for the optics of our city," Jewels Helping Hands said in the press release.

In an email, City of Spokane spokesperson Brian Coddington said in part that the city is "monitoring the situation to ensure the health and safety of everyone and maintain access to neighboring businesses."

"No timeline has been established for moving the tents, although the desire is that those seeking to assist homeless individuals direct them to the available low-barrier spaces in the system," Coddington said.

Coddington said low-barrier shelter availability has ranged from 91 to 100 spaces over the past three nights. 

   

 

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