Tacoma City Council passes homelessness ordinance

Tacoma City Council passed an ordinance this week aimed at cracking down on homeless encampments.

The ordinance prohibits unauthorized camping on public property until October 9, 2017, which is when the city’s emergency homelessness declaration also expires.

The ordinance also reduces the length of time a person living in a vehicle can remain parked in one spot, down to 72 hours from 7 days. The penalty was also changed to an escalating fine of $50 to $250 depending on the number of citations.

The public health emergency declaration allows the Emergency Temporary Aid and Shelter Program to take a three-phase approach to address homelessness. The approach includes:

  • Mitigation to reduce the impacts of homelessness on citizens, businesses, and the homeless population
  • Temporary Transitional Centers to provide connections to social and health services to better assist in facilitating the transition to permanent housing during the public health emergency
  • Short-Term Transitional Housing Options to implement new approaches to short-term transitional housing that would establish housing options throughout Pierce County to ensure that people experiencing homelessness can find resources in the community they live in

Tacoma has allocated $9 million over the biennium for homelessness services, a 48 percent increase from 2015-2016.

Pierce County’s homeless population had an increase of almost 500 people from 2015 to 2016, the highest count since 2012. While the population decreased slightly this year, Tacoma had over 50 homeless encampments in May when the emergency was declared.

2017 Re-Wire Policy Conference