City of Yakima to close homeless encampment on Friday - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

City of Yakima to close homeless encampment on Friday

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YAKIMA, WA - After being open for nearly four months, the homeless encampment in downtown Yakima on the corner of South 3rd Street and East Walnut Street will be taken down.

The homeless have until midnight Friday to vacate the encampment and go to a winter weather shelter.

Porta-potties at the homeless encampment were removed Thursday afternoon, signifying the beginning of the end for the encampment.

But this doesn't mean that the homeless will not have somewhere to go or stay during the winter season.

"We have about 35 beds for males and 10 for women," said Larry Mattson, Executive Director at the Yakima Valley Conference of Governments, "so those should be running by tomorrow night, when the city closes down the encampment."

Mattson says the homeless will be directed to go to the neighborhood health depot in downtown Yakima during the day, which has the capacity of about 50. In the evenings they will be shuttled to one of three different overnight shelters.

Mattson says that if capacity is reached, more shelters may be added.

"We are going to see what is the demand like these first two weeks the program is open," he said, "and if there is a demand there then yeah, absolutely try to find some other locations to open."

Although shelters are being provided as an alternative to the encampment, Mattson says they can't force anyone to use them.  

"Not everyone who is homeless might want to use that option," he said. "I think what people will see is there will be homeless people that are still visible and that is their choice," said Mattson.

The homeless need to vacate the encampment by midnight on Friday, but have until Monday to remove all of their belongings.

The winter weather shelters will be open until March 30th.