Mayor's office plans to dismantle cooling shelter at Camp Hope
Today, I’m featuring a story from Luke Baumgarten and Carl Segerstrom at RANGE, a “media organization for people who love the inland Northwest and want to make it better.”
They’ve been doing fantastic reporting this week from Camp Hope, where our houseless neighbors have been struggling to cope with this 100º+ heat wave. Many in our city and region have struggled with housing insecurity as rents and housing costs have skyrocketed, particularly in the aftermath of the pandemic.
If you like their reporting, I encourage you to subscribe to support their work.
Mayor Nadine Woodward’s administration intends to force Camp Hope to dismantle its cooling shelter amid 104-degree weather days, according to a series of emails obtained by RANGE today, Thursday July 28.
The key email in the thread was sent just before noon today, and came from Interim City Attorney Lynden P. Smithson, wherein Smithson details a plan to tell the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) that the temporary cooling shelter is an illegal building and demand the agency remove it from their property by Monday, Aug. 1.
In the email, Smithson says the intent is to draft and send this letter to WSDOT today. By mid-afternoon, WSDOT eastern region administrator Mike Gribner confirmed that they’ve received this letter and plan to respond within a day or two. “We’re still contemplating how we’re going to respond,” he said.
Separately, members of city council, spearheaded by Council President Breean Beggs, have been in communication with WSDOT and local safety officials, including Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer, on the necessary steps required to allow the shelter to remain onsite and functional at Camp Hope.
The documents, and RANGE’s subsequent reporting, outline a fundamental disagreement between city administration and city council about how best to help not just the people at Camp Hope, but everyone affected by this heatwave.