Puyallup’s Homeless Policies Earn Place In National ‘Hall of Shame’

The mayor insists Puyallup is very nice to homeless people. Residents wish they’d go away.

Screenshot from the cover of NLCHP report No Safe Place, in which the Hall of Shame appears.

A new report from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty says anti-homeless policies in Puyallup have earned the small Washinton town a place on the NLCHP’s “Hall of Shame.” From the report:

“Even though there is no year-round emergency shelter available to the rapidly growing homeless population in Puyallup, the city has enacted a number of laws making it illegal to camp, panhandle, sit or lie down in large swaths of the city, or to be present in public parks after closing. Moreover, the city has amended its trespass law to allow people to be banned from all public places within the city for up to five years if they violate any of these laws – an inevitability for homeless people who have no ability to comply due to a lack of alternatives.”

Last year, the Department of Justice voiced its view that these kinds of laws are unconstitutional. In an August letter, the DoJ argued that cities which do not offer adequate shelter for the homeless cannot punish them for public camping. Doing so, they argued, would violate the 8th Amendment’s prohibition on “cruel and unusual punishment,” which courts have interpreted to include punishment for unavoidable conduct (like sleeping outside when you have nowhere else to go). Of course, the recent election of Donald J. Trump as president may cause a change the DoJ’s view.

According to the Tacoma News-Tribune, Puyallup Mayor John Hopkins took “great offense” to his town (whose name literally means “generous people”) being placed on the list. He added that he and council “have been working all year to come up with a humane program. We have spent more time and effort this year in studying homelessness than we have in the last 10 years all together.”

The TNT reports that “Residents have complained that [a homeless referral center] has attracted a cadre of homeless people who camp on the River Trail, steal property and do drugs and have sex in public. The city is working on new licensing conditions to keep [the center] more tightly regulated.”

More in News & Comment

Most of the tenants at show cause hearings have fallen behind on rent, said Housing Justice Project Managing Attorney Edmund Witter. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
New Report Details Seattle’s Eviction Trends

Analysis of 2017 county records and interviews show that nearly 90 percent of evicted tenants experienced homelessness

Daron Morris Suspends Campaign for King County Prosecutor

After running as a reformer, Morris says medical reasons are preventing him from finishing the race.

Democratic incumbent Rep. Adam Smith of Washington’s 9th Congressional District (right) and challenger Sarah Smith discuss the issues facing the district during a forum the Mirror hosted on Sept. 19. Andy Hobbs/staff photo
Smith vs. Smith: Two Democrats Clash in 9th Congressional District Forum

Democratic socialist Sarah Smith seeks ‘bold new progressive vision’ in bid to replace incumbent Adam Smith.

Teen Immigrants in Washington Programs Claim Sexual Assault and Rape

Police reports from federally-funded facilities in Renton and Fife call the minors’ safety into question.

It’s Official: Safeco Field Will Get $135 Million in Taxpayer Funds

Critical King County Councilmembers call plan “a fleecing” and “irresponsible.”

The Westin Seattle workers represented by Unite Here Local 8 gather at Gethsemane Lutheran Church after voting to strike on Sep. 14. Photo by Abby Lawlor
Hotel Workers Vote to Authorize Strike

The Westin Seattle employees will picket to demand higher wages from Marriott International.

King County Moves to Expand Pre-Booking Diversion Program

Three cities could get money to link low-level drug offenders to services and keep them out of jail.

Immigrant Youth Vulnerable to Abuse in Centers

Federally-funded facilities struggle to maintain health and safety of minors stuck in limbo

Most Read