‘They’ve moved on’: Camp Hope prepares to shrink as population reaches below 200

SPOKANE, Wash. — If you’ve driven along I-90 lately, you’ll notice that Camp Hope looks way smaller.

The camp is being cleaned out, and crews are on site collecting piles of trash and empty tents left by people no longer living there.

The cleaning job is making way for the walls of the encampment to move in, and shrink.

“A lot of people have been moving out to housing…we have fewer people, they’ve moved onto Catalyst,” said Maurice Smith, with the Spokane Homeless Coalition.

WSDOT hasn’t released this week’s number of people living at the camp, but at last check, less than 200 people are living there, and new people won’t be let in.

Smith says now, the biggest challenge is finding housing for people struggling with their mental health.

“We’re getting down to the most difficult population to place because they have mental health issues, they have substance abuse issues, and physical medical issues, we don’t have options for them yet,” Smith said.

In the meantime, things former campers left behind are being cleaned out and thrown away.

“We’ve got cleaning crews that work every day, and then we build big piles, and when we need to move those piles, we have a private contractor doing that,” Smith said.

Additionally, WSDOT crews have thrown out over 48,000 pounds of trash from the camp in the last two months. All of this is being done so people living near the edges of the camp will have room to move.

“We’re moving folks this direction from south to north in the camp, and we’re filling up these empty spaces, so we want the community to see it’s hard to see with the privacy fence,” Smith said.

Starting next Monday, the fencing facing I-90 is going to be moved in about thirty feet, making the camp even smaller.

READ: ‘It’s a good thing’: Camp Hope getting smaller as people move to housing