(PHOTO AND STORY: KHQ.COM)
There’s a small bench one mile south of the Fish Lake Trailhead. Take a right onto a dirt path and you’ll find yourself surrounded by pine trees. One hundred yards in, you’ll find yourself in the middle of a large homeless camp.
The camp is an immediate problem for people who live in the area, as well as for walkers, runners, and bikers who use the popular trial.
As large as the camp is, it’s just a small example of a much bigger issue throughout Spokane.
Spokane Code Enforcement has a team of just three people who are responsible for cleaning up homeless camps in the City.
Jim Kreitz, who is the Labor Foreman for Litter Control says there aren’t enough resources to keep up with the amount of homeless camps that need to be cleaned up throughout neighborhoods in Spokane.
The Parks and Recreation Department spent $5,000 last June through December on homeless camp cleanup. They work in conjunction with Code Enforcement, and also have their own crew who spends around 20 hours a week cleaning up homeless camps.
Though there are plenty of resources available, such as homeless shelters and advocates, many transient people won’t use them.
We spoke with a homeless man on the corner of Maple and Sprague Thursday, who said he didn’t want to go to a homeless shelter or Community Court, and that he’d rather live under a bridge.
Kreitz says most homeless camps return once they’re cleaned up.
The Parks Department, Code Enforcement, and Neighborhood Services are meeting next week to talk about what can be done to reduce the number of homeless camps across the City.