Residents criticize Tacoma’s repeated encampment removals

Tacoma has seen a significant increase in camp evictions since 2021, but some say the approach to dealing with homelessness could be counterproductive.

TACOMA, Wash. – Theresa Power-Drutis has lived in her Tacoma neighborhood on South G Street for over 40 years. As she’s seen the city change, one thing has remained constant: everyone has been made welcome, including campers and people who didn’t have a place to stay.

But now she says it’s been difficult to maintain that balance in recent months and the city’s latest round of camp sweeps isn’t helping.

“We had a fragile community balance, we had people without shelters, people with shelters, service providers, and it didn’t work like clockwork, but it worked,” she said. “But then the city started doing these sweeps … and every time there’s a sweep, new people come here.”

Now, Drutis said her neighborhood is feeling the strain of people crowding her street because they have nowhere else to go, crowding out people who have already been there.

“I think we’re at the point now where people are going to be asking the city to remove people and to me that’s just sadder than I can say. But I understand,” said Drutis. “These aren’t bad people … it’s just gotten to the point that if we load it all on a few neighborhoods, there’s no neighborhood that can carry that.”

Pierce County is also feeling the effects of the warehouse raids.

Councilor Jani Hitchen said that as more Tacoma homeless people are displaced into unincorporated Pierce County, they are becoming farther away from the resources they need, making it harder to address the root causes.

“If we look at the number of sweeps and how fast they’re happening, I know our social services that could offer support can’t act that fast,” Hitchen explained. “We sweep them, and any communication we have with them and any trust we’ve built? Shot down because now they are in another community, somewhere else, and we have to start over.”

Now Drutis is hoping a more permanent solution can be found, as continued sweeps are not the answer.

“If the intention is to spread the homeless out across the borough so they can’t get the resources and the people with resources can’t reach them…make them homeless and make them invisible to the rest of the city, I think they are.” on the right track,” said Drutis. “But if they want to deal with crime, if they want to deal with litter, if they want to deal with all the negative effects of homelessness? If they want to complete communities? You are absolutely on the wrong track.”

The City of Tacoma announced it would begin cleaning another warehouse at the Murray Morgan Bridge on July 12. The city said although its policy calls for a 72-hour notice, the city wanted to give early notice to give people a chance to find shelter before then. Residents criticize Tacoma’s repeated encampment removals

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