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Posted on: October 17, 2022

Addressing the Issues Surrounding Homelessness

Enforcement & Security

Over the past several weeks, Longview police officers have been working extra patrols aimed at reducing the impacts of the homeless encampment on the surrounding neighborhoods and businesses. These patrols have been occurring nightly with officers on overtime using primarily foot patrol, and the occasional bicycle patrol, to observe and intercept suspicious behavior and thwart crime. The patrols have been a remarkable success as our officers have contacted hundreds of people, interrupted dozens of crimes in progress, and arrested many people. In the last four weeks, officers working the foot patrol details are seeing a substantial decrease in criminal activity in the area because of the enforcement blitz. This enforcement blitz has covered the 1400 block of Alabama Street, areas on Industrial Way, California Way, Oregon Way, and the Highlands neighborhood.  

The patrol division has been directed to take a zero-tolerance stance on violations of both state and local laws in the areas most impacted by the homeless encampment on Alabama Street. Numerous criminal citations have been issued city wide for shopping cart possession, illegal camping on public property, and criminal trespass. In addition, officers have responded to more than 200 reports of abandoned vehicles on city streets. In the last two months, hundreds of cars, trucks, and RVs have been moved off city streets by either the owner or an impound initiated by police. 

In addition to our extra patrol efforts, the Chief of Police has directed the patrol division to perform a routine walkthrough at the Alabama Street homeless encampment at least once per shift (three shifts per day). These patrol officers conducting walkthroughs at the camp have made arrests during their visits if they observed criminal activity or identified subjects with active warrants.   Along with their walkthroughs, patrol officers and police supervisors have developed professional relationships with the City’s contracted outreach coordinators and on-site security. These professional relationships have created a round-the-clock presence at the Alabama Street homeless encampment and as a result, we have seen a dramatic decrease in lawlessness at this site and in the surrounding area. 

Site Remediation & Preparation

The City of Longview declared a Public Health & Safety Emergency on August 23, 2022. City staff, in conjunction with local contractors, have performed several actions to mitigate the public health and safety issues and remediate the site on Alabama Street. Trash and detritus have been removed from the site and fencing was taken down to repair or replace. Asphalt pavement was placed on the site to provide a permanent hard surface to facilitate a less costly and more complete cleaning of the site in the future. The City of Longview is in the process of developing and permitting a more comprehensive site plan, which includes sanitation facilities, stormwater treatment facilities, additional security, additional lighting, and other physical improvements intended to help prevent future public health and safety emergencies.  Completion of site remediation and restoration is expected in mid-November.

 Emergency Shelter Program

The City of Longview is pleased to be partnering with the Salvation Army in operating “HOPE Village”, which is an emergency and enhanced shelter model for adults experiencing homelessness.  The Salvation Army will provide case management and housing navigation to unsheltered individuals in our community, and coordinate physical and behavioral health support, employment and other services with local agencies. The Salvation Army successfully operates similar emergency shelter programs throughout the United States.  

 Hope Village will open its doors mid-November and serve 50 or more unsheltered individuals.  The program is intended to be a first step toward helping these individuals find permanent homes. Hygiene stations and communal facilities will be provided to residents of Hope Village, and case workers will be on-site to help them connect with services and to support their positive outcomes.

 Pallet, a company based in Everett, Washington, will deliver pallet shelters to the site located on Alabama Street, beginning November 7. A group of community volunteers will assemble the pallet shelters to create 50 individual sleeping cabins. The pallet shelters are not intended to be permanent housing. Instead, they help bridge the gap from living on the street to finding permanent housing.  

 For up-to-date information please call the Department of Public Works at (360) 422-5200 or visit our website at https://www.mylongview.com/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=627, or the City of Longview Facebook page.

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