TACOMA, Wash. — A Tacoma plan designed to push the homeless out of its parks is being delayed.
The city of Tacoma said it would ban tents in its parks beginning Sunday.
But the city pushed that date to mid-December, when they hope to have temporary housing for up to 35 people.
These tents have turned People's Park into a homeless encampment. Local residents say they don't feel safe coming to the park.
So the city decided they have to go. But, as it turns out, not just yet.
In the dreariness of this Sunday after Thanksgiving, Christine Gray-Carithers was cleaning up People's Park where she has lived for several months.
"Yeah, yeah, we're cleaning up stuff now," she said. "We're in the process of doing that right now."
The city is giving them a reprieve until mid-December. But she says she and her service dog, Eddie, are ready to go.
"We don't want to be outside," she added. "We would love to be inside."
She soon could be.
Tacoma's mayor says the city has signed a nearly $400,000 contract with the Low Income Housing Institute or LiHi to build Tacoma's first-ever Tiny House Village, 22 so-called "micro-units" designed to provide housing for 35 people through early spring.
A spokesman for Metro Parks Tacoma says it is a step toward returning People's Park to, well, the most people.
"The goal is to make parks welcoming to everyone," Hunter George said. "If we can find other places, emergency sites for people (who) need a place to be overnight, if we can, that's the goal. But the parks are open and welcoming to everyone during the day."
One homeless advocate, whose church provides food to the people in this park, agrees.
"Just due to the fact that this is a community," said James Larkins of God's Church for All People. "And the community, you first want it to be safe for the people in the community, especially for the children."
The Tiny House Village is set to open on Dec. 19th.
LiHi says it will provide 24-hour site management and security as long as the Village is operating into early spring.
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