State Sen. Curtis King: Keep homeless shelters away from schools

    File Photo (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

    OLYMPIA, Wash. -- State Senator Curtis King (R-Yakima) has introduced legislation that would ban homeless shelters or encampments from locating with 1,000 feet of a school.

    SB 5882 states the following:

    No city or town may authorize or through inaction allow for the siting or establishment of a sanctioned or unsanctioned homeless encampment of any kind including, but not limited to, outdoor encampments, temporary small homes on-site, tiny homes sheltering homeless persons, vehicle resident safe parking, or care or feeding areas for homeless persons, within one thousand feet of a public or private school, or an early learning facility.

    This means both sanctioned and unsanctioned homeless encampments, shelters and other facilities would be forced to locate elsewhere.

    "We have laws in this state that say you can’t have a marijuana store or liquor store within 1,000 feet of a school,” Sen. King said in a statement. “But there’s no law protecting schools from homeless encampments, either sanctioned or unsanctioned. Homeless camps near schools put students in greater harm than marijuana or alcohol. Why should we allow that to happen? It puts the safety of students and teachers at risk."

    But others think the idea is misguided.

    "As a practical matter, it is probably not implementable and will have pretty poor outcomes and unintended consequences," Alison Eisinger, Executive Director of the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, tells KOMO News. "Senator King's district includes at least 1,100 kids who were homeless in the last school year, and some of those kids [live] outside."

    The bill has its first hearing on Monday, Feb. 18, 2019.

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