TACOMA — Controversy over how to manage the increasing homeless population in Tacoma continues as city officials look to find shelter for dozens of people who have set up camp at People’s Park.
The city plans to remove the remaining tents and personal belongings and put them in storage before a barrier goes up later this week to clean up waste and debris that have been piling up.
At its height, there were more than three dozen tents at People’s Park.
“We need to get in to clean the parks. That is not flexible, but how we will work with people to ensure that they are taken care of—we understand this is a very vulnerable population, and the primary concern of the city is to make sure we’re looking out for the health and safety of all of our residents,” said Tanisha Jumper, Director of Media and Communications for the City of Tacoma.
Last Friday, the city a gave a 72-hour notice that the park will be closing to be cleaned. That has now been postponed to later this week.
Local advocacy groups have been stopping by the park to provide food and services to the people who are experiencing homelessness.
“People who know how to work with people and put them in housing. Not this mass eviction. Not this sweep,” said local advocate Ann Bickel.
Like Bickel, advocates are worried people will end up getting further displaced, although city officials have said their team is working on finding shelter for everyone as long as no laws are broken.
It should also be noted, this homeless camp went up after a new Metro Parks Tacoma ordinance went into effect in December banning tents in public parks.
City officials hope to clean People’s Park and have it back open again by early next week.