Yakima community gathers to discuss city's homeless problem - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakima community gathers to discuss city's homeless problem

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Homeless Encampment (File) Homeless Encampment (File)

Yakima, WA - All you have to do is drive through Downtown Yakima to see the city faces a problem with homelessness.  So, Tuesday afternoon, community members gathered to talk about the major issue.

There was standing room only during the community meeting at the Greater Yakima Chamber of Commerce.  Representatives from Yakima Neighborhood Health Services, the Yakima Valley Conference of Governments (YVCOG), and Justice Housing held a panel at the meeting to shed light on the issue.

"It's really important that we also come together as a community, to share this together and come up with solutions before it gets larger," said Annette Rodriguez, with Yakima Neighborhood Health Services

According to statistics given by YVCOG, the number of homeless people in the Yakima Valley has dropped below 600 compared to last years number that was close to 700.

But concerned community members said that they are not noticing that decrease, when they look around areas like Downtown Yakima and want to know ways to help.

"We're all in this together from the standpoint of homeless or not, we have a duty as members of this community to do what we can and get as much information to help solve the problem," said Jason Eaton, local business owner who attended the meeting.

Overall, the meeting presented facts like ages of the homeless population, contributing factors of homelessness in the area,  and how organizations like Neighborhood Health help the community.

One of the biggest concerns mentioned at the meeting is getting people off the street and into housing, and Justice Housing says they are working on that.

"What will be a temporary solution for a few months this summer, is an encampment to hopefully get the folks off the street in downtown, and into a secure place, so we're diligently working on that.  A longer term solution of actually buying some property and providing some place for the homeless people to be," said John Hodkinson, member of Justice Housing and YVCOG Executive Committee Vice Chair.

After the meeting, the overall outlook was positive and attendees did ask for more short term solutions, to which the panel informed that, Wednesday, May 25th, the Yakima City Council is expected to address short term solutions during a meeting.