Spokane deputies, Spokane Police handing out flyers, closure notices at Camp Hope

SPOKANE, Wash – Spokane County deputies and Spokane Police paid a visit to Camp Hope Tuesday, visiting tents and handing out flyers to the homeless campers living there.

The flyer reads “Notice: This camp is to be closed” and lists other shelters in the community.

Spokane Police say this was an “education and engagement effort” and that the people running the camp were not informed that officers and deputies were coming.

It was conducted by Spokane Police, the Behavioral Health Unit and Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies.

Police say they were there to make sure campers know the camp is closing and making sure they know what resources are available.

The same information has been posted inside a tent at the camp for several weeks.

Hundreds of campers have set up a makeshift tent city just off Interstate 90 in east Spokane.

They’ve been there for a year, after moving from a small protest at Spokane City Hall.

Since then, there’s been a political battle about what to do with it.

Washington Department of Transportation, which owns the land, has brought in resources to help those living there get identification and access to services.

WSDOT issued the following statement from Tuesday’s events:

“The action the city and county decided to take today is extremely disappointing. After the exciting news of the Catalyst Project yesterday and soon having the ability to get more people into housing, the actions today is only instilling fear into those who are there.”
The Empire Health Foundation also responded to law enforcement’s actions on Tuesday:

“Camp Hope is smaller than it has been at any point in the last six months, but there is not enough housing or shelter options available for the more than 400 people at the camp. There are nowhere near that many beds available at the Trent Shelter or in all regional shelters combined,” said Empire Health Foundation President Zeke Smith. “New supportive housing at Catholic Charities is opening this week, and additional investments in expanding capacity shelters and adding housing options are coming. If the City, County, and local law enforcement are genuinely interested in helping Camp Hope residents access critical services, they are welcome to pick up the phone and call those of us who are actively working to accomplish this each and every day.”

*Note: KXLY has not verified the claim that 400+ people are still living at Camp Hope.

In a news update posted November 30th, WSDOT said the camp shrunk by seven percent in November.

In the November 25th count, 433 people were living in the encampment.

The Washington Department of Commerce has given $24 million through the state’s Right of Way Initiative to build out more shelter, detox and housing opportunities so the people at Camp Hope have access to more permanent options.

Spokane Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich has been critical of the state’s efforts, saying the camp is an ongoing protest and needs to be removed.

He initially said he would clear the camp by mid-October, but then backed off as the county activated the Emergency Operations Center.

The city and county then set a goal of clearing the camp by November 15th.

The East Spokane Business Association has been vocal about getting rid of the camp and wanted it clear by Thanksgiving.