Spokane officials provide update on Camp Hope developments

SPOKANE, Wash. — City officials provided an update on the status of Camp Hope, along with recent developments at the homeless encampment.

Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward, Spokane County Commissioner Mary Kuney, Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl and Spokane County Sheriff-Elect John Nowles all spoke on Monday.

Woodward said changes are coming to the Trent Resource Center. The mayor also said there is litigation working its way through and comments are limited because of the pending legislation.

Legal action has been filed against the City about the homeless encampment over the last couple of months. The most recent action taken was a temporary restraining order signed by a federal judge that prohibits law enforcement from doing a full sweep of the camp.

READ: Judge signs temporary restraining order preventing Camp Hope sweep

READ: Federal lawsuit filed against City of Spokane to prevent Camp Hope clearing

A court date has been moved numerous times about the county’s litigation brought against Washington State. As of now, a date is scheduled for next week, but that could change again.

The Mayor says the updates are based on feedback from people living at the camp and the Salvation Army. The mayor said 332 people stayed at the Trent shelter Sunday night and no one was turned away following reports that Trent was turning away people.

Woodward said they are bringing 350 new beds to Trent and partitions are being installed to increase privacy. There will also be more hand washing, shower and storage space at Trent.

“We have to remain solution-focused,” Woodward said.

Kuney said she was worried about the upcoming cold weather coming to Spokane, adding East Sprague doesn’t deserve the camp anymore. She says people who live and work there feel unsafe.

County Commissioners have given $500,000 to improve Trent. Kuney says volunteers are putting beds together right now to help those experiencing homelessness sleep somewhere safe and warm.

Meidl said they have been tracking crime at Camp Hope since it first started in December of last year. Police say they’ve seen a 58 percent increase in calls for service since the fence was put up in October. Since October, crime had gone up 85 percent in the area. The OT for extra patrol costs the City $400,000.

PAST COVERAGE: Fencing now up at Camp Hope, curfew goes into effect Friday night 

“Homelessness is not a crime,” Nowels said. “Being unhoused is not a crime.”

Nowels said people are using criminal behavior to pay for drug addictions and other ways to support themselves, adding those kinds of things need to be addressed.

Law enforcement went to Camp Hope unannounced two weeks ago, giving resource flyers to people living at the camp. Nowels says accusations made that the sheriff’s office was harassing and intimidating people at the camp when they were there is inaccurate. Nowels added that the process of handing out flyers was “community-oriented policing.”

READ: Law enforcement hands out closure notices at Camp Hope second day in a row

The sheriff released body camera videos from when they visited the camp two weeks ago. These videos were not requested by the media.

Nowels said they had very few interactions with campers because many people were inside their tents or RVs.

With brutally cold temperatures this week, many will be looking to find a warm place to stay for the night. The Convention Center was used last week as a temporary warming center. The Trent Resource Center is the City’s newest shelter, resource center and emergency warming center. The mayor says the space there can hold 600 people.

READ: Missionaries helping build more beds for Trent shelter