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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Encampment near Interstate 90 allowed to stay put by WSDOT, for now

UPDATED: Fri., Jan. 14, 2022

Campers who had set up tents at Spokane City Hall set up their tents again in an empty lot in east Spokane last month after they were warned to leave city hall. The camp had been at Spokane City Hall where participants were protesting the city’s homeless response.  (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)
Campers who had set up tents at Spokane City Hall set up their tents again in an empty lot in east Spokane last month after they were warned to leave city hall. The camp had been at Spokane City Hall where participants were protesting the city’s homeless response. (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)

People camping near Interstate 90 will not immediately be forced to move from state-owned property.

The Washington State Department of Transportation temporarily rescinded its 48-hour notice for people to clear the encampment on vacant land near Second Avenue and Ray Street.

The encampment sprang up last month after the city effectively disbanded Camp Hope, a protest in which people erected tents outside City Hall to demand more shelter for the homeless.

In a statement issued Friday, a Department of Transportation spokesperson explained that the notice would not be enforced because Spokane does not have an adequate number of available shelter beds.

“WSDOT has entered into discussions with the city of Spokane to explore potential short-term options that would provide additional time for social services within the area to find a more positive and acceptable solution for those located at the camp,” department spokesperson Ryan Overton wrote.

The notice to vacate, issued in part due to the safety concerns expressed by neighbors and nearby businesses, had been set to expire at noon on Friday.

Despite its withdrawal of the notice, the state does not want the encampment of an estimated 60 to 70 people to remain there.

“Our desire and goal, related to the encampment, has been to remove it in a timely, safe, and humane way that ends in a positive outcome for all involved,” Overton wrote. “We (WSDOT) are not an organization that deals with social services, nor do we have law enforcement resources.”

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