Councilmember Bagshaw’s Statement on Introduction of Encampment Legislation

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Councilmember Sally Bagshaw issued the following statement regarding today’s Council decision to introduce legislation which revises the City’s encampment clear out policy:

“Councilmembers introduced legislation today designed to develop policies for how the City manages homeless encampments.  The legislation will be considered in my Human Services and Public Health Committee this month.   This legislation seeks to develop new encampment removal protocols, and it will be developed in conjunction with other homelessness-related matters this month including:

  • This Thursday, Councilmembers will hear findings from the Barb Poppe and Focus Strategies Reports, which provides best-practice recommendations for how we allocate and invest taxpayer dollars relating to homelessness.
  • The Task Force on Unsanctioned Encampments Cleanup Protocols, a diverse group of advocates that the Mayor and I jointly convened, will meet throughout September, and provide alternative preliminary recommendations for how encampments are managed.
  • The Opioid Addiction Task Force is slated to release its findings this month, and the group is exploring new options such as safe injection sites, and increased access to alternatives to methadone such as buprenorphine.

“I have scheduled several special meetings of the Human Services & Public Health Committee throughout September, and we will develop a systemic, humane approach to address the needs of people who are unsheltered.  These proposals will be considered  in tandem with the recommendations of the Task Force, service providers, County and state elected officials and leaders in our community.   We will create and implement thoughtful policies that prioritize a person-centered approach to addressing the crisis of unsheltered homelessness.

“The Mayor’s Office, ACLU/Columbia Legal Services and my council colleagues agree that we need a systemic approach to reduce harm and improve health conditions for people in encampments.   Clearing people out of encampments, without the offer of stable, indoor shelter, makes life harder for people who may be facing poverty, mental illness, addictions and other obstacles.  We as a city and region will build on Barb Poppe/Focus Strategies’ recommendations, and address people’s needs in a coordinated way.  The legislative effort we are initiating through my committee will be informed by the community as well as members of the Encampment Task Force and the Opioid Task Force.

“I’ve yet to see a perfect strategy for addressing homelessness, but I trust we can coalesce in all these various efforts to get as close to perfect as we can.”