Breaking News
More () »

Fife receives $2 million in state funds to address homelessness

The city council approved a resolution to use the funds to address homeless encampments on WSDOT property within the SR 167/SR 509 Gateway Project.

FIFE, Wash. — Homelessness in Fife is an issue that may have started off as manageable, but Deputy City Manager Russ Blount said once the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the country, it quickly grew out of control.

“The word started to get out in the community of people that didn’t have anywhere else, and literally hundreds of people moved on the state property here in Fife,” Blount said. “For hundreds of people to move here, for a city of only 10,000 people, that is a big, big, influx.”

However, the property that was occupied is owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation, which spent years buying the land with the goal of building an expressway as part of the Gateway Program.

Once the eviction moratorium lifted, the encampments were broken up, creating another problem for Fife.

“Some of them instead chose to move into our parks, our green spaces, our wetland areas. So, we have many people living where they shouldn’t be,” Blount said.

Which is why the city has called on the state for help. About $2 million in state funds will go toward cleanup around the encampment sites, as well as working to boost Fife’s efforts to provide outreach, such as drug treatment and job training, and constructing a tiny village for temporary housing.

Blount said the assistance will help make headway in the goal of helping people, and not just pushing them from one spot to the next.

“We don’t want to chase people around,” Blount said. “You can’t say, ‘you can’t be here’, without offering them, ‘you can be there,’ and we must offer a safe, legal place for them to go.”

Before You Leave, Check This Out