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Regional agencies activate EOC to address Camp Hope

Plan targets November 15 deadline, meeting state’s four basic benchmarks

Brian Coddington, Communications Director (509) 625.6740

Tuesday, October 25, 2022 at 3:47 p.m.

Local governmental agencies have activated an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to address the challenges of those staying at Camp Hope and the impact to the neighborhood around it, a demonstration of the united regional commitment to improving the situation for everyone.

Regional partners at the EOC have begun to operationalize a plan to relocate occupants of the camp prior to the onset of winter weather to an indoor location where individuals are connected to resources. Work is underway to temporarily expand the Trent Resource and Assistance Center (TRAC) to become that primary transitional navigation center until connections can be made to long-term housing solutions. November 15 is the target date for decommissioning the camp.

“Communities that are most successful at decommissioning camps use an organized, indoor navigation system approach to identifying housing and connecting people to supportive services,” Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward said. “Moving out of the elements is a safer, healthier, and more humane way to connect to services and relieves the pressure on the neighborhood around the camp.”

The plan will address the four basic benchmarks identified by the state in the legislation that authorizes funding for local communities in order to decommission encampments on state right-of-way. It will offer shelter space and services to the displaced individuals residing in the encampment; provide secure storage for personal belongings; provide safety and security for the people providing assessments and services to displaced individuals; and support restoration and cleanup of the property. Additionally, it will provide imminent relief to the surrounding neighborhood.

“Spokane has places to go to get out of the elements and the resources available to meet individual underlying needs associated with homelessness,” Spokane County Commissioner Mary Kuney said.

TRAC will serve as a central navigation center for assessment, service supports, and housing connections in a 24-hour climate-controlled environment with overnight sleeping capacity up to 400 individuals. Additional sites will be used to accommodate additional overnight space as needed. About five dozen individuals have already moved from the camp to TRAC.

A combination of factors led the City to request the activation of the regional EOC, including the rapidly changing weather, continued concerns for conditions in the camp, the rising crime in the neighborhood, and the overall concern for public health and safety. Calls for police service in the area have gone up 75.7% from when the camp opened on December 16, 2021 while fire services have gone from 7 last year to 161 so far this year. Violent crime in the quarter-mile radius from the encampment have risen 114% and property crime has increased 81% in 2022 when compared to the average of the three previous years during the same period.

“Expecting better than enduring life in a field through harsh winter weather is an investment in the individuals struggling with homelessness,” Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said.

Arrangements will be made to bring temporary portable office space and large storage containers to TRAC. The additional office space is intended to address the sensitivity of some conversations related to assessment and service connections and will allow for some administrative functions to move out of the sleeping areas. The large storage containers, which have been used successfully in previous operations, will be used to keep individual overflow items that exceed the size of bedside storage.

Additional beds will be assembled at TRAC in the next couple of weeks. Supplies will also be inventoried and ordered to accommodate any additional demand based on the results of the census count taken at the camp. Arrangements are also being finalized to provide transportation from the camp to indoor locations.

The EOC group will meet multiple times per week to manage resource needs, evaluate progress, and troubleshoot emergent needs. The separate City and County chronic nuisance processes are continuing.