Tacoma city leaders have taken another emergency step toward fixing a homeless crisis.
On Tuesday night, they passed two new ordinances to deal with unauthorized homeless camps and people who sleep in their cars. The first measure prohibits people from pitching tents on any public property.
Camping on private property is already illegal, but this change gives police a new tool to help drive the chronically homeless to new services that can help find them shelter.
“Currently police are left with saying, ‘Hey we don’t really have a rule, so we really wish you weren’t here,’” said Tacoma Deputy Mayor Robert Thoms. “So this allows the police to have a little bit more enforcement but the enforcement is geared toward pushing them into existing services.“
The Tacoma City Council approved an ordinance on Tuesday banning camping on public property in an effort to address public health and safety concerns at unauthorized encampments.
Deputy Mayor Robert Thoms, who sponsored the ordinance, says before its passage, police had no choice but to just ‘move people along.’