After tent ban passes, Tacoma works to find space for homeless

TACOMA, Wash. - The city of Tacoma is working to find places to house people experiencing homelessness.

Earlier this month, the City Council passed a controversial ban on tents in parks.

For many, the question now is where will they live.

“We got to move away from here December 1st. Where we going to go?” said Alphonzo Roach.

Roach lives in a tent with his wife in People’s Park.

He says after serving in the Army, he moved to Tacoma, where he has lived for the last 40 years. He says his rent was raised so high he could no longer afford it, and for the last three months he has been homeless.

“People don’t want to live like this,” he said.

When the city’s new tent ban goes into effect, Roach says he’ll have to find yet another place to live, and so will many other people experiencing homelessness.

“There can’t be an ordinance that says not here, if there is not an alternative side to that,” said Michael Yoder.

Yoder is the executive director of Associated Ministries, a Tacoma-based group working to help the city find alternative spaces for people who will be displaced by the tent ban.

“Everybody needs to have a legal place to live somewhere,” he said.

Yoder is working to bring in faith-based organizations, like churches, which may be able to provide shelter or space for people experiencing homelessness.

But Yoder says it will be a challenge.

“The city needs to invest in restoring trust with the faith communities, and the city says we want to do that,” said Yoder.

He says years of red tape preventing churches from providing shelter for people have scared some faith communities away from working with the city.

He says it will take some time to bring them back, but he believes the effort will be worth it, and eventually will help find people like Roach a better and safer place to live.

The tent ban goes into effect in December.