Tacoma, Wa - Friday, Tacoma City officials gave notices to people living in tents at People’s Park that they have three days to leave or face criminal charges.
On December 1, Tacoma’s new tent ban went into effect. However, the city chose to delay enforcement until they had enough shelter options for people experiencing homelessness.
On Friday, city officials went to People’s Park and notified people living in tents that they would have 72 hours to leave the property or face trespassing charges.
Some living in the park say they do not know where they will go.
“If they have a place for us to move, I’d be glad to move, but where are you going to put us” said Lois Klomp who says she has lived in and near People’s Park for the last three years.
However, the City of Tacoma has spent the last few weeks investing hundreds of thousands of dollars working to find more shelter options for people experiencing homelessness.
One example is the new tiny home village offering 22 micro shelters that can house about 35 people. City officials say the village is already at full capacity.
The Bethlehem Baptist Church has also opened its doors to families and single women looking for shelter. The Church can provide shelter to about 40 people. Officials say they are not at capacity.
City officials also say the Tacoma Rescue Mission has space for people.
The city, with the help of the Metropolitan Development Council, is also working to create even more space. City officials say they’re in talks with The Altheimer Memorial Church and hope to have 32 more beds available by mid January.
However, some say the issues isn’t if there is space, it is a choice of not wanting to sacrifice their freedoms.
“I want to have my own place without having anyone tell us what to do,” said Klomp.
While many were packing up and preparing to leave People’s Park, Klomp says she has not plans to go anywhere.
“Why should we cower like dogs and put our tails between our leg just because the cops going to make you move,” said Klomp.
City officials say after 72 hours, all garbage, debris, waste, litter, and abandoned property will be disposed of and all personal property remaining in the park after closing will be removed and stored at 1423 Puyallup Avenue in Tacoma.
They will hold the property for 60 days, after that it may be destroyed.
To arrange getting your property back the city says call 311.
For outreach and community resources, including shelter alternatives, the city says call 211.