Tacoma city planners want opinions about homeless camps

by: Kevin McCarty Updated:

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Tacoma, Wash. —

There are no homeless camps or tent cities in Tacoma now, but that could change. And city planners say they want to be ready with regulations in hand if and when a camp springs up. "We want to hear from the community about this issue in general", said Brian Boudet with the city's planning department.

In 2010 the Washington state appeals court ruled churches could set up temporary sites for homeless people to stay, if they use their own property. Boudet said the city wants to get ready for that, even though so far, no churches have proposed a camp. "No, we haven't had anybody come forward yet. We know there are some discussions out there in the community which is part of the reason we want to be kind of proactive about this."

But does the city need a homeless camp similar to Nicklesville in Seattle. "There is a need for different efforts to help homeless," said Brian Sonntag, former Washington state auditor and now executive director of the Tacoma Rescue Mission. Sonntag added setting up a camp for several hundred homeless could be a tall order. "It's going to have to be governed in some fashion," said Sonntag. "Cleanliness, utilities, it's going to have to be police and monitored."

A public hearing on homeless camps is set for Wednesday, Jan. 22 and Tacoma Municipal building at 5:30 in the council chambers.

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