Yakima City Council holds off on approving homeless encampment

Yakima City Council holds off on approving homeless encampment

YAKIMA, WA — The Yakima City Council voted unanimously Wednesday morning to authorize an agreement with the Sunrise Outreach Center to operate a temporary homeless encampment — however, a location has not been designated.

The proposal stems from rising concern regarding a “tent city” near Chestnut Avenue and Sixth Street. The city is not allowed to shut the campsite down without providing an alternative location for homeless people to access basic needs.

In turn, the city is now looking to designate a temporary location where the homeless can go– Wednesday morning’s proposals included an old Tiger Oil location on North First Street, and an area just north of Bravo Company Boulevard. However, business owners convinced council members to rethink those locations, citing concern about the nearby residents and businesses who might be affected.

“You’d be shifting and expanding the problem with this encampment,” said Greater Yakima Chamber of Commerce President Verlynn Best, “You’re not guaranteeing they’re staying in that encampment.”

“If we send them to a different area, it’s going to be the same issue,” added Yakima City Councilwoman Carmen Mendez, “The fact of the matter is that we need to find a solution.”

The council has asked city staff to return a list of other potential locations by the end of next week.