Tacoma criminalizes unsanctioned homeless encampments in proximity to shelters

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A controversial new ordinance designed to get more homeless people into shelters in Tacoma goes into effect Monday.

Those who break the new law face fines and jail time.

No one will be forced out of an encampment Monday. Two-week notices will go out to encampments that are near a homeless shelter.

City leaders said they are trying this approach to get more people off the streets and into housing.

It is not news to anyone in this encampment that the city of Tacoma wants them out.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” a man said from inside a tent. “I’m actually ready to do it right now, just to be ahead of them. You know what I mean?”

He won’t have to move just yet.

But the city’s ban on camping within a 10-block radius of a homeless shelter does go into effect Monday.

“It’s inhumane to just let people live on the streets in encampments,” John Hines said. “And let’s try to find ways to get them into shelters as fast as we can.”

Hines, a Tacoma native and city council member since 2019, said he drafted the ordinance to address the issue of homelessness and encampments.

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