Homeless people living near the Chehalis River have more time to find a place to stay after the city of Aberdeen decided not to enforce a notice to vacate until later this month, Mayor Bill Simpson said last week.
The vacate notice, given to homeless living in tents along the north side of the river in mid-March, mandated that homeless people leave the area by last Tuesday. But the dozen or so camps remained on the site.
Homeless community advocates filled the City Council chambers two weeks ago to voice their concern over the notice, arguing that the city should provide an alternative living space or more time for the campers to move.
At the meeting, Simpson agreed to talk to Bill Sidor, the city code compliance officer who issued the notices, as well as the property’s owners.
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Sidor issued the majority of the notices on property owned by Michael Lang, but one camp is on Earl Whiting’s property. The city is in the process of acquiring the Whiting property to build a riverfront park, though officials have denied any connection between the park and the notices to vacate.
Last week, Simpson told The Daily World that trespassing notices would be issued to people living on the property later this month. The notices are at the behest of the owners, he said.
The Rev. Sarah Monroe, founder of Chaplains on the Harbor and a supporter of the campers, said she is happy about the extension. Efforts are being made to find the campers living alternatives, she said.
“I’m thrilled that people have more time,” Monroe said. “We’re keeping a close eye on what’s happening to see maybe what next steps are going to be.”
Monroe said nothing concrete has come out of talks to find new housing so far.
Simpson pointed to options like the Union Gospel Mission and other resources for homeless people. Monroe said she couldn’t speak for people living along the river as to why they choose not to seek housing assistance through organizations like the Coastal Community Action Program.
“It’s a sad situation,” Simpson said. “I don’t like to evict people. I don’t like to ask people to leave what they classify is their home. But when the owners of the property ask for that, then we have to help them along.”