Tell the City of Tacoma to Take Immediate Action to Care for the Unhoused

Join Tacoma Democratic Socialists of America (TDSA) in calling on the City of Tacoma to take the following actions to protect our unhoused community during this pandemic.

TDSA demands the City of Tacoma immediately to:

1. Identify and open emergency shelters immediately to help alleviate an already-taxed shelter system. Advocates have presented (many) possible emergency and temporary shelter solutions-- like reopening using vacant land for legal encampments, establishing Safe Parking sites, creating an Urban Rest Stop, reopening Tacoma Ave Shelter, etc. We urge the City to move swiftly and creatively to provide urgently-needed additional shelter to fill the actual need, rather than the misguided quote from the Point-In-Time Count.

2. Stop the sweeps (or as you call them, “Encampment Cleanups and Site Reclamation”) and instead establish self-governed legal encampments. Whether you prefer to call it a sweep or not, utilizing the expensive services of the Tacoma Police Department and for-profit cleaning enterprises only punishes our community members in the middle of a public health crisis. It is a misuse of public funds and an unjust action, even more so during this health crisis. We demand that the City instead shift precious public resources to funding safe, sanitary encampments for tent and car-camping, providing necessary hygiene and trash services. We recommend the City Look into replicating Camp Hope legal encampment from New Mexico, described in the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty’s 2017 report, “Tent City, USA,” as a model of how this can be successfully done.

3. Treat the shelter system as an extension of the healthcare system. Failing to do so will potentially crumble our shelter system.

The City should:

  • Ensure nonprofits have necessary supplies to operate a safe, hygienic shelter for all residents. We recommend that the City follow King County’s lead in one-stop ordering for nonprofits to ease this process of stocking all shelters in the County.

  • Support shelter staff who are working on the front-line of this pandemic, dutifully running day-to-day operations, and make sure shelter staff are treated as healthcare staff, which would open up funds to support benefits, testing, etc.

  • Protect nonprofit funding stability. Many agencies have had to cancel fundraisers that bring in a huge portion of their budget, but we also know that large sums of money dictated from the State is on its way. We ask the City to move quickly into dispersing much needed funds quickly and transparently.

4. Provide a clear, prompt communication structure for the public to understand city decisions and processes, over multiple platforms and languages.

With a democratically elected government, public comment and input is vitally necessary when making decisions that impact the community’s lives. We are concerned that the decision to indefinitely recommend written comments as public input fails to uphold accountability and inadequately prepares us to deal with this crisis in a transparent and equitable fashion.

We demand that the City:

    • Provide clarity regarding when and how the City Council and City leadership will make decisions and how public comment will be taken.

    • Establish public comment on all housing and COVID-19 related issues and decisions that are digitally accessible, particularly for unhoused people and other community members without regular internet access, including providing bandwidth and access points at predetermined online locations until council meetings re-open to the public.

    • Provide a public COVID-19 email service to field questions from the public and regularly update them of the conditions and services present throughout the pandemic.

    • Create a “What To Do?” webpage on the City’s website in order to communicate important information in an easy-to-use, accessible medium. (ex. What to do if… you suspect you’re sick, you’re an hourly worker, you can’t afford living expenses, etc)

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