Homeless discussion continues in Yakima - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Homeless discussion continues in Yakima

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YAKIMA, WA - The city council and local leaders continued the homeless discussion on Tuesday. The city council held a study session where organizations and non-profits informed them about about the services they provide to the homeless.

Those who spoke to the council, were the Yakima Valley Conference of Governments, the Union Gospel Mission, Rod's House, the Yakima Housing Authority, Justice Housing Yakima and Neighborhood Health Services.      
The homeless encampment on Chestnut Avenue was discussed and it was stated that housing vouchers would not be issued to the homeless for another 30 to 45 days. Due to the long wait Mayor Avina Gutierrez said that other actions might need to be taken. 

"I personally do think 30 to 45 days are still quite a bit of time to not have a temporary solution for those people being affected by the issue, so I am hoping to be able to bring that discussion back to the city council on Tuesday about a temporary encampment,' said Gutierrez. 

Local leaders also shared their views on the homeless problem at a forum held by the Yakima Chamber of Commerce. Some of the members the panel included were Gutierrez, Police Chief Dominic Rizzi, Executive Director of YVCOG, Larry Mattson, and Executive Director of the Union Gospel Mission Rick Philips. 
At the forum various angles of the homeless problem were discussed along with the legal aspect as well as how the police department handles the issue. 

"It is what can we do to assist instead of enforce. We are not at the forefront of the homeless issue because homelessness is not against the law," said Rizzi. 

After the panel was done talking, the public was allowed to ask them questions. One of the attendees who spoke was Ellie Lambert a homeless advocate with Justice Housing Yakima, working towards finding a long-term solution for homelessness in Yakima. 

"We are looking at having a permanent encampment, where people can come be safe and have their basic needs met, hygiene, food and shelter," said Lambert.