Lawmakers seek to regulate homeless camps on church property

  • Friday, February 22, 2019 4:34pm
  • News

By Emma Scher

WNPA Olympia Bureau

Cities like Lynnwood, Kirkland, Bothell, Seattle and Sammamish have municipal codes regulating temporary homeless encampments.

State Senate Bill 5644 would create uniform guidelines for regulations cities can impose on religious organizations that host homeless citizens on their property.

Cities would not be able to prohibit indoor shelters, limit outdoor encampments to fewer than four consecutive months or have temporary small houses on site.

The bill also establishes an agreement to allow fire safety inspections and sex offender checks on residents and requires coordination with local jurisdictions to use Washington’s homeless client database.

“It recognizes the partnership that we as a state … should have with faith organizations who provide such excellent … boots on the ground in knowledge about particular communities and the needs of people who are facing homelessness in those communities,” said prime sponsor Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma.

“Their efforts will not go unnoticed.”

City representatives spoke in opposition of the bill, which they said limits the ability of a city to regulate encampments and, in some cases, conflicts with ordinances city councils already established.

The Rev. Bill Kirlin-Hackett is director of the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness, an organization of religious and secular organizations which work to end homelessness. He said the bill would facilitate partnerships between religious organizations and local jurisdictions.

“There’s not one jurisdiction that I know that’s taken care of all the unsheltered homeless that we have,” he said.

“We need the faith communities to be the partners that work with the jurisdictions. We are more than willing to do that.”

A companion bill was proposed on the House and executive sessions were held, but no action was taken. SB 5644 has not yet been scheduled for an executive session.

More in News

Petty Officer 1st Class Jessie Ewing of VP-40 is greeted by his daughter Gala Ewing Thursday. He returned to Whidbey Island with the last active duty P-3C Orion.
Last active duty P-3C Orion flies into history

An era of Naval aircraft history came to an end this month… Continue reading

Commissioner will delegate vote for state senate appointment

Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson won’t vote on a state senate… Continue reading

Man files another public records lawsuit against Langley

A South Whidbey man has filed another lawsuit against the city of… Continue reading

Island County’s longtime hearing examiner is likely to be replaced

For the first time in more than 30 years, there will be… Continue reading

Navy SAR conducts medical evacuation on Olympic Peninsula

On Oct. 3, a search and rescue team from Naval Air Station… Continue reading

Photo provided by Island County Sheriff’s Office 
                                A Langley man in a single-seat kit aircraft crashed Friday afternoon after his plane lost power while in the process of landing at Whidbey Airpark on South Whidbey.
Langley man injured in fiery plane crash

A 65-year-old Langley man was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle… Continue reading

I-976 could detour Island Transit buses

If passed, Initiative 976 has the potential to significantly diminish bus and… Continue reading

Newspaper writers win top awards

Two Whidbey News Group staff members received top writing awards at a… Continue reading

Whidbey hikers beware, hunting season is here

Hikers, bikers, runners, horseback riders and general wanderers of Whidbey trails should… Continue reading

Most Read