Locals torn over potential homeless shelter near Yakima Greenway
YAKIMA, Wash.- The idea of a permanent homeless shelter being built in Yakima has many locals turning heads.
Yakima City Council approved a rezoning plan for 2.6 acres of land across from Camp Hope near the old Kmart in Yakima. The Yakima Greenway Foundation is now taking the city to court, arguing that they did not follow the ordinances that have put in place for decades to protect the Yakima Greenway and river conservation area.
Andy Ferguson with Sunrise Outreach says Yakima has been faced with the same problem every year with no solutions. Ferguson says this new rezone would be a way to reduce the amount of homeless people that are already living on the Greenway.
"We all know that there are people that camp out along the Greenway. Without a low barrier shelter for them to go to, they are going to continue to camp out along the Greenway. It's really those that are camping along the Greenway that provide more of a distraction and interruption to people enjoying the Greenway than the residents at Camp Hope or any low barrier future shelter," said Ferguson.
One local who regularly walks the Yakima Greenway trails says Yakima is growing, and without a homeless shelter we will see more people out on the streets.
"Yakima definitely needs a shelter for the homeless, and they are going to need some land to do that and that's a good space for it," said local Roger Vandiver.
Many locals I talked to aren't for the idea, arguing since Camp Hope has moved back to their old location behind the old Kmart in Yakima, there has been more graffiti, crime, and garbage found along the Greenway areas. Many say the permanent homeless shelter would make it worse.
The 2.6 acres of land is owned by the city, but Greenway employees say the area falls within the Greenway overlay zone, and since it does there are certain things the city legally cannot do.
The Yakima Greenway Foundation agrees there needs to be a homeless shelter built in Yakima, but says the area the city is considering is not compatible with Greenway and the river corridor.