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New site for proposed homeless camp expected in coming weeks

by EMRY DINMAN
Staff Writer | July 31, 2020 12:08 AM

MOSES LAKE — The city of Moses Lake has formed a committee that will meet in the next two weeks to determine options for a site for a managed homeless camp, which would then be presented to the city council, City Manager Allison Williams wrote in an email.

City council members had voted 6-1 to approve the building of an emergency shelter camp at the Longview Tracts site at a May 12 meeting. However, that site, around 600 feet from an elementary school and situated between two residential areas, drew stiff opposition from the community and at least one council member, former mayor Karen Liebrecht.

At the May 12 meeting, Liebrecht expressed concern that the site had been selected over alternatives because the surrounding neighborhoods are low-income and populated by at-risk communities that may not be as able to protest the decision. Neighborhood residents had expressed anger over the decision to add the camp to the area, saying that the city provided no notice that the site was being considered.

Though the city decided to move forward with other aspects of its homeless program, including designating a funding source and working to add others, the homeless camp was placed on the back burner for several weeks.

Along with the site, Williams said that the committee will look at what kind of camp the city wants to build. Both she and Chief of Police Kevin Fuhr have expressed interest in the “Walla Walla model” of using durable Conestoga huts, instead of tents, to house the temporary residents of the camp.