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Spokane cracking down on homeless 'tent city'

By Ian Cull, KXLY4 Multimedia Journalist, ianc@kxly.com
Published On: Jan 06 2013 10:47:29 PM CST
Spokane cracking down on homeless 'tent city'
SPOKANE, Wash. -

The City of Spokane will begin cracking down on the homeless in the "tent city" under I-90 this week. 

The city says it will offer social services to the residents there, or give them 24 hours notice to vacate.

There's a number of reasons why the people under the I-90 freeway stay there.  Some are passing through, many tell us they have addictions. In a way, so do Wayne and Virginia Crone.

"Because I can't separate from her. I've got separation disorder, haha," Wayne said.

The couple's been married for 16 years, and has lived under the freeway for two months. At this point, they even share a pair of shoes. 

They're hoping to get bus tickets to Olympia to stay with one of their three kids. In the meantime they say they can't get into shelters together.

"It's getting worse out here. They want to move us but where are we going to go," Virginia said.

This week, they may not have a choice. The city is moving in with social services and police officers to give people the help they need. If they refuse, officers will give them 24 hours notice to leave. If they don't, a ticket or trip to jail could be next. Crone thinks they should be allowed to stay.

"Why can't they do that instead of giving us tickets knowing that we can't pay it, so we end up in jail, so taxpayers pay for us to be in jail," Virginia added.

The city has said during this process a tent city is not a viable long-term solution. Virginia Crone admits, it's a scary place.

"You hear a lot of fighting, you don't sleep really at all because you hear the traffic constantly."

Now the couple is hoping to make it west, before it comes time for them to leave their tent.

"We've been through everything together, this is why we stay out here together," they said.

The city has given out just 13 tickets classified as "occupying a transient shelter" in the past six months. That number may go up this week, as the tent city is expected to be dissolved by the end of the week.

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