Submitted by Tacoma Democratic Socialists of America.
With the March 23, 2020 statewide “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, Tacoma Democratic Socialists of America demands that the City of Tacoma create immediate measures to protect the safety of our unhoused neighbors.
We ask yet again: Where are all our unhoused neighbors going to go? Where will people shelter-in-place if they are experiencing homelessness? What will unhoused people do if there are inadequate amounts of day and night time shelter available?
The shelter system is running beyond capacity. In order to provide the best possible care for folks experiencing homelessness and to protect service providers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, we need to shift resources towards alternative solutions. We need to de-intensify the current shelter system right now, not only to care for unhoused people but also to prevent over-taxation of the service providers that do the
on-the-ground work of caring for our most vulnerable community members.
We demand that you immediately:
- Open emergency shelters throughout the City by using publicly-owned resources with restroom and shower access such as converting high school gymnasiums and community centers.
- Install porta-potties and handwashing stations and provide trash pick-up services at known encampments in compliance with the new CDC guidelines for People Experiencing Unsheltered Homelessness
- Provide motel and hotel vouchers to create more shelter options for unhoused individuals. Particularly, move elderly and medically compromised guests who can live in a hotel room to a hotel room using the Catholic Community Services’ model. Also, offer hotel rooms to any family experiencing homelessness during this crisis.
- Create Safe Parking lots for car-campers in vacant parking lots and provide port-a-potties, hand-washing stations, and trash pick-up services to each site.
- Establish Homelessness Services as an independent department. Right now, decisions made about homelessness services spans across four different city departments, but mostly fall under Neighborhood & Community Services. We need one streamlined department to offer clarity for community input, but also work cohesively to develop strategic policies and communication.
- Create an additional youth shelter. Certain state licensing requirements are lifted for the emergency. Try to reduce guests under 24 years old from adult shelters and divert funds to establishing new youth shelters.
We call on the City of Tacoma to act swiftly and boldly to support our unhoused neighbors during this critical time. As our community comes together to face the COVID-19 crisis, we must respond to the needs of our unhoused neighbors as quickly as possible in making these demands a reality.