SPOKANE, Wash. — Chain link fencing is coming to downtown Spokane in what appears to be an effort to keep people experiencing homelessness out of the area as well as limiting trash.
The City of Spokane is putting up the fencing on the sidewalks on the Browne Street viaduct for what it calls a “health and safety measure.” The city said in a news release, that the fencing will “narrow the area that will require cleaning.”
The city said it has been difficult to keep up with trash and other debris in the underpass. Spokane has hired extra litter crews to clean high-traffic areas.
“This is the latest in a series of resource enhancements to make downtown a welcoming environment,” Spokane Communications Director Brian Coddington wrote in the news release.
“Do something for the homeless not just chasing them from one place to another,” reads another comment.
Photos: Spokane adds fences to Browne Street underpass
The City of Spokane did not explicitly say the fencing is related to homeless camping in the area in its news release, but the underpass is a popular space for people experiencing homelessness to find shelter.
The city also addressed the need for shelter space in the fencing announcement.
“Additional space is still required to meet specific night-by-night areas of need. A search is underway for a temporary location to meet emergent sheltering needs related to weather, smoke, and other considerations, and separately for a solution that would add more permanent space to the system,” the statement reads.
The City also said in the past few months it has “added co-ed overnight and day-use space, more space for women and families, a dedicated location for young adults, a service-intensive bridge housing program, and extended contracts beyond traditional seasonal agreements for space.”
The fencing will also mean narrower sidewalks for pedestrians to pass under the tracks while traveling on Browne Street. On Facebook, many people questioned the city’s decision, saying it would be more difficult for people in wheelchairs and power chairs to navigate the area.
“This looks nightmarish to try to navigate in a wheelchair,” read one comment.