PUYALLUP, Wash. – For scores of homeless people living along the Puyallup River, Tuesday was eviction day.
County crews cleaned out dozens of campsites west of the city of Puyallup. County officials said they counted approximately 40 campsites that had remained after a month-long campaign offering services and warning residents that the time to move was coming.
Danielle Arnott says she has lived along the river for about a month but she’s been homeless for years.
“I don’t want to be like this. This is not OK for me,” she said.
Pierce County said work crews can’t begin maintenance along the river’s banks until everyone has moved out.
For several weeks, case workers offered addiction and outreach services to anyone living in the homeless camp, but not everyone will have a roof over their heads after the eviction.
“I don’t know where they’ll sleep tonight and that’s the sobering reality,” said Libby Catalinich, director of communications for Pierce County.
“Drug use did not make me homeless, my homelessness made me turn to drugs,” said Arnott who admits to self-medicating.
Her camp along the river is sprawling but she can only salvage what fits into her backpack; the county will haul off and throw away whatever is left.
Now she worries that, without this place to call home, she could become an easy target for robbers.
“I will definitely start doing meth more because when you go to sleep you wake up with nothing. Literally,” she said.
Officials said early 100 people called the camps home about a month ago – now only a handful were evicted with police waiting in the wings.
Arnott asked Q13 News to share her story; to remind everyone that nobody chooses to become homeless or an addict.
“What happened to me could happen to you,” she said.
County officials said crews plan to remove all the debris by week’s end.