180 people have left Camp Hope since July, camp managers say

SPOKANE, Wash. – Camp Hope is the largest homeless encampment in the state of Washington, but it’s starting to shrink. 

Maurice Smith with the Spokane Homeless Coalition says the current population of the homeless encampment sits at 443 people. That is down from the 623 who were living there in July. 

Smith says approximately 40 of those who have left the camp have gone to the Trent Shelter, while others have gone to transitional housing, permanent housing and family homes. 

“The end goal is an empty camp,” Smith. “It’s a big change. And we’re proud of that because that’s why we’re here. We’re not here to establish a permanent homeless camp. We’re here to work with the most difficult population of homeless which is the unsheltered chronic homeless.”

One of those who has left the camp is Wynter Daniels. She has been at the Trent Ave shelter for a few days and left Camp Hope because she didn’t feel safe.

“There’s a lot of people arguing and a lot of drug stuff going on, so people are always kind of high there. And I’ve been trying to get my husband away from that,” she said.

Daniels says that while the new shelter isn’t perfect. her living conditions have improved.

“It’s better than living in our van 24/7. There’s not enough room for us plus our stuff,” Daniels said.

Next steps for Camp Hope

The Washington State Department of Transportation, which owns the land on which the camp sits, recently installed fencing around the encampment. They also announced 24/7 on-site security. Both of these were a part of the agency’s outlined plan to clear the encampment and get those living there to stable housing. 

Smith says the fencing has had its intended effect and has reduced nighttime activity at the camp. 

Jewels Helping Hands is now working with WSDOT to create a set of camp rules, which all residents will be required to read, sign and keep in order to remain on the property. 

Shelter Site Rules Agreement by Erin Robinson on Scribd

Those rules prohibit predatory behavior, like drug dealing, stealing or assaultive behaviors, as well as consuming drugs or alcohol. Illegal weapons are not allowed on site, all trash must be properly disposed and residents cannot move or adjust the perimeter fencing. 

Those living at the camp will also have their eligibility assessed every 30 days while they await more stable housing. 

Smith says every resident will be issued a picture ID badge so they can be identified by security. 

Camp managers are also working with the Department of Licensing and Department of Health for a three-day ID restoration day. These agencies will be working with residents to get new social security cards, birth certificates and state IDs, which are needed for securing housing and jobs. 

Some amazing progress is taking place,” Smith writes. “While politicians threaten and argue over who should sue who, while offering no actual solutions, we’re moving forward with the actual solutions are unsheltered homeless friends need to move forward with their lives.” 

READ: 24/7 security arrives at Camp Hope

READ: ‘The camp needs to go’: SPD wants Camp Hope cleared, outreach providers push back