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Homeless service providers react to flyers warning of I-90 camp closure

Service providers are saying officials want to scare campers more than they want to help them.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Service providers at the I-90 homeless camp are disappointed with how city and county law enforcement are going about distributing information.

They say officials want to scare campers more than they want to help them.

Leaders say campers already have the information in the flyers that are being distributed and bringing in people in uniform is a scare tactic.

"I don't know what it's for," Camp Attorney Jeffery Finer said. "Performance I guess."

Earlier today, Jewels Helping Hands, WSDOT and Empire Health representatives waited for law enforcement to arrive. While Tuesday's visit was more of a surprise to campers, on Wednesday, agencies were prepared.

Officers came in with more flyers stating the camp would be closing soon and to prepare next steps. But, WSDOT, who owns the land, says it's not buying what the city and county are selling.

"This is nothing more than a show of force at this point," Ryan Overton of WSDOT said. "It's intimidation and it's just plain wrong."

Compassionate Addiction Treatment (C.A.T.) is listed as one of the resources listed on the flyer.

C.A.T. Co-founder Halle Burchinam says pieces of paper aren't going to solve Spokane's homelessness crisis.

"When you're experiencing homelessness and someone says, 'here's a piece of paper with phone numbers and addresses. Go get help.' How are you supposed to do all that while homeless?" Burchinam said.

She says she feels like flyers disregard the important groundwork her organization is doing just across the street from the camp.

"We're continuously helping people through processes and then also responding to immediate needs at the same time," Burchinam said.

Spokane police told KREM 2 the flyers are about education and engagement. This may not be the last time the camp sees police. SPD says it will continue to have a presence with additional flyers as the community looks to the end of the camp.

"We'll see what happens tomorrow," Overton said.

But, one thing Attorney Jeffery Finer, who represents Jewels Helping Hands against Sheriff Knezovich's camp swipe, says we can expect is that this case will be presented in front of a judge.

"It's obvious that we have to go to court and tell them how to behave," Finer said.

The flyers don't say when the camp will be closing. KREM 2 reached out to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office multiple times for more information, but has not heard back.

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