LONGVIEW, Wash. (KOIN) — The homeless situation in Cowlitz County, like in other parts of the Pacific Northwest region, continues to grow larger to the point that county leaders are now looking at setting up a rotating group of organized homeless camps.
The county is working to find a location to set up an organized homeless camp, but it’s not an easy process. Community members are concerned and had a chance to voice their thoughts at a meeting held Friday afternoon in Longview. Most residents didn’t like the three publicly-owned sites that may be selected and rotated through as organized homeless camps. The list consists of the courthouse square near the Cowlitz County Courthouse in Longview, Alamba Street in Longview where there is an existing camp, and Willow Grove Road.
Residents said the proposed sites are too close to homes, schools, and businesses. Many who live in the county want a site that is out of the main areas of Longview and Kelso.
“I don’t think anybody on that committee wants a homeless camp in their backyard,” said one man who stood up to speak during the community meeting. “So, I’m just saying the best-case scenario would be on the outskirts of town.”
“Figure out why they’re here and attack that problem and a lot of it will go away,” said another resident.
It is difficult for county commissioners and other leaders to make a decision to move forward with any of these right now, especially given the community opposition. However, they are trying to find sites that would keep campers off neighborhood and city streets by having a designated, organized camp that could be rotated so crews could clean each site.
The counties are also looking at putting out bid requests for more permanent housing, such as group homes, to reduce the need for campsites. But, as several people pointed out, even if there was an organized camp that offered services, there would still be people who would want to camp elsewhere without restrictions.
KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story.