‘It was either sign it or go nowhere’: Longview cracks down on homeless encampment

Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 5:32 PM PDT
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LONGVIEW Wash. (KPTV) - Over the last two weeks, Longview has required more than 100 people living in an encampment on city land to sign what officials are calling the ‘Good Neighbor Policy’ after the city said the camp was getting out of hand.

The agreement prohibits visitors, imposes a 10 p.m. curfew, and outlaws any drugs or alcohol or firearms within the camp.

The city has paired this agreement with connecting people to outreach workers, but some who live in the camp say the city is not doing enough for them under this agreement.

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The Alabama Street camp has been in place since 2019 according to the city’s police chief. But since then it has exploded to more than 100 residents.

J.D. Powell has lived in the camp for the last few years. He said this “good neighbor policy” reaches too far.

“It was either sign it or go nowhere,” Powell said.

For others living in the camp, the extra involvement by city officials is welcomed.

“There may be, according to these people some drastic measures being taken,” said camp resident Joanne Moore. “But it’s absolutely necessary, there’s been a lot of violence.

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[Page 1 of 2] The 'Good Neighbor Agreement' that the City of Longview is requiring residents of...
[Page 1 of 2] The 'Good Neighbor Agreement' that the City of Longview is requiring residents of the homeless camps to sign.(KPTV)
[Page 2 of 2] The 'Good Neighbor Agreement' that the City of Longview is requiring residents of...
[Page 2 of 2] The 'Good Neighbor Agreement' that the City of Longview is requiring residents of the homeless camps to sign.(KPTV)

But Powell said if camp residents must sign the agreement, then more needs to be offered.

“Well I have not seen the resources yet,” Powell said. “There’s nothing really here helping us get an extra leg up. There’s nobody here knocking on your door saying ‘Hey, do you guys want jobs?’”

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Longview Police Chief Robert Huhta is overseeing the implementation of the good neighbor policy. He said those who break the rules get kicked out and aren’t allowed to return.

“They don’t abide by them after trying to work with them with a plan, then we will trespass them from the camp,” Huhta said.

Huhta said the no visitor policy has not gone over well with those who live in the camp. But, he stressed it is necessary to prevent violent crime.

“Unfortunately we have seen individuals come down and prey on those vulnerable individuals in the encampment. So that’s the stance we have to take: it’s about safety.”

Huhta said the city is in the process of building tiny homes for residents in the camp and those should be finished by November.