ABERDEEN, Wash. - Aberdeen officials are preparing to move close to 100 people out of the city’s "River City" homeless camp as soon as this week.
The site has been a hot topic for months, sending the city to federal court twice.
Patrick Carey has lived in the camp since April.
"People are terrified,” he said.
Carey spent Monday packing his belongings-
"I’m separating my items from food stuff, to furniture, to clothes, to building materials and trying to get everything organized so, when it comes time to move, when bulldozers, heavy equipment comes in, I can already have things prioritized,” he said.
Carey got word last week the city plans to close the River City camp.
“There has been some Tiananmen Square-type talk, some talk of chaining themselves and whatnot,” Carey said.
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"I think it's sad because, where are they going to go? They're going to live in the street,” said Jean Ramos, whose family members live in the camp.
Monday, city workers added new signs to close off the site to public access.
Mayor Erik Larson said they'll give residents at least a 72-hour notice to clear the lot.
“We're hoping that we'll get voluntary compliance on that and that we won't have to go through the very lengthy and unnecessary process of getting that enforced. We're hoping it's something that can be mutually agreeable,” Larson said.
The city bought the eight-acre site in July 2018.
Larson said the spot is dangerous. It sits along the Chehalis River next to train tracks. One woman was hit by a train last year and lost her legs.
“We've had several close calls and, just recently, there was a derailment of an empty car," Larson said. "The potential for loss of life and damage is substantial."
Carey likes living at the camp, but, he agrees; that something needs to be done. He doesn't think an eviction is the answer.
"This spot down here didn't create drug addiction or homelessness or theft. Those things already existed and they'll continue to exist after we move into town. We're just going to be closer to the public that doesn't like us to begin with,” Carey said. “I'm not sure the city of Aberdeen has really considered the effect it will have displacing over 100 homeless people all at once."
Wednesday, City Council is expected to discuss finding a temporary location for the people who live at the River City site. One potential location is near City Hall.
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