Housing group occupies Fife motel

More than 40 homeless people are staying at the Travelodge in Fife as advocates call on Pierce County to pick up the cost of housing them there during the cold winter months.

The group moved in on Christmas Eve. Tacoma Homeless Now, the advocacy group behind the occupation, paid for that night but haven’t paid since.

Advocates say they are doing this to save lives, claiming five people have died of exposure so far this season. They say they're putting people in the motel to keep them safe.

Pam Roach, the Pierce County council member for the area, says other than the pandemic, homelessness is the biggest issue that Pierce County faces.

"While the Travelodge is under siege, it is time for government to step up and house the homeless," she says. 

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Roach is currently running a local TV ad advocating that Pierce County utilize empty jail space to house the homeless population.

The owner of the motel says the occupation cannot continue. He's threatening to lay off his 10 employees and close up shop if organizers don’t pay for the rooms.

Fife City Manager Hyun Kim says he is working on ways to relocate the homeless people still staying at the motel.

"The City will be coordinating with other public agencies this morning to relocate these folks to more suitable locations at this time."