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

The exterior of the University District crisis pregnancy center, 3W Medical for Women. Photo by Keiko DeLuca
How Title X Cuts Impact UW Women’s Health

Some student advocates worry that slashed budgets could drive student to misleading crisis pregnancy centers.

Trans Pride Seattle seeks to strengthen the transgender and non-binary community. 
Photo courtesy of Gender Justice League
Trans Pride Seattle Continues Marching

In light of federal budget cuts, the parade that highlights marginalized voices survives due to community crowdfunding.

As the executive director of the Tenants Union of Washington State, Violet Lavatai (left) believes that YIMBY policies 
do not actually help the communities most in need of housing. Photo courtesy Tenants Union of Washington State
The Growing Power of Seattle YIMBYs

The tech-funded “Yes in My Backyard” movement thinks the housing crisis can be solved by rapid development, but does it only benefit those at the top?

Hidden River Farms is 100 acres of farmland in Grays Harbor County. Photo by Lucia Wyss
Sowing the Seeds of Mental Health

Suicide is an epidemic amongst agricultural workers, but young farmers and state legislators are working to find solutions.

Seattle and King County Officials Want a Safe Injection Van

The mobile project—an alternative to permanent sites—still doesn’t have a defined timeline.

Western Washington Could See More Wildfires This Year

Lots of grass and warmer weather could make for worsening fire seasons.

An autopsy found that Tommy Le was shot twice in the back during an fatal encounter with a King County sheriff’s deputy. Photo courtesy Career Link
New Report Calls for Increased Transparency From King County Sheriff’s Office

The fatal shooting of Tommy Le served as a case study for researchers.

Charles Pillon sits inside one of the several buses on Iron Mountain. Photo by Caean Couto
The Last Days of Iron Mountain?

After battling King County government for decades, Charles Pillon may have finally lost the fight over his illegal 10-acre junkyard.

Most Read