The growing homeless population is a regional concern in the South Sound and beyond. Fife has been heavily impacted by this issue and is working to find solutions. Our city staff members continuously reach out to partner agencies and adjacent government bodies to learn what is working in other communities. Our elected officials have made this issue a priority action item.
We’d like you to know what we’ve done to date and what city staff will be working on in the future. Among the advancements the city has made is to develop a housing and job training program, which you will find detailed below. The city so far has created full-time positions to solve problems that arise from homelessness.
Also below, find information about encampments and where they are located, how and where to report activity and how our police and city staff are legally able to respond to encampments.
We’d also like to hear from you about solutions you think might work. Reach out to Deputy City Manager Russ Blount here.
CITY OF FIFE LAUNCHES JOBS PROGRAM
The City of Fife launched a jobs and temporary housing program in October 2021 that will provide shelter for 10 individuals who previously were residing at the Hylebos Nature Area. The city is providing temporary shelter on city property for participants who will receive job and life skills training from city staff and partner agencies. Program participants have all passed the same background check that city employees must pass.
While participants receive job training, they also are paid an hourly wage for work performed on city grounds. Tasks they perform include landscape maintenance and other work to beautify Fife parks. The City of Fife has partnered with local agency Valeo Vocation to operate this program. Visit this page for more information: cityoffife.org/jobsprogram.
CITY STAFF POSITIONS NEWLY DEDICATED TO HOMELESS RESPONSE
New staff positions have been created to provide support and resources. Those staff members will provide a more unified homeless response. The Fife Police Department has designated a police officer position that will address issues related to homelessness. That officer will work with citizens to find solutions to their concerns. That officer also will serve as an information resource for those who are unhoused. The city’s new community navigator with the Parks, Recreation and Aquatics Department is now working with the city’s new Fife Jobs Program. The community navigator is a full-time position. The navigator will train and guide participants in the city’s new jobs program, which you can read more about here: cityoffife.org/jobsprogram.
AGENCIES FIFE IS WORKING WITH
This issue is a top priority for Fife City Councilmembers and city staff. We recognize that homelessness and encampments are not something that can be fixed overnight and will require work with and help from a number of external agencies, including adjacent municipalities, Catholic Community Services, Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) and the Tacoma Rescue Mission. The City of Fife contracts with the Tacoma Rescue Mission to ensure three beds are available as needed. Additionally, police department staff have compiled a resource guide they distribute when making contact with homeless individuals who may need assistance. Find the resource guide at cityoffife.org/homelessresources.
Fife is in close contact with staff members with the Pierce County Human Services Homeless Programs. The program is an excellent resource that helps support and coordinate entry systems for families and individuals experiencing homelessness. Find out more about their work at piercecountywa.gov/3715/homelessprograms. The contacts for that agency are Heather Moss at firstname.lastname@example.org and John Barbee at email@example.com.
HOW TO LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT FIFE IS DOING
Attend a council meeting: Citizens are invited to attend a Fife City Council meeting on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month. Meetings begin at 6 p.m. and all are welcome. The public can attend in person or virtually. For directions on attending the meeting, to learn how to sign up and give public comment and to view recorded meetings, please visit cityoffife.org/meetings.
Police updates: At the last council meeting of every month, Chief Pete Fisher presents an updated report about police activity and homeless encampments. Attend those meetings at 6 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of the month. Citizens can find information for participating in the meetings, or view previously recorded meetings, on our website at cityoffife.org/meetings.
Research point-in-time counts: Research is helpful in understanding the context about homelessness in our region. Each year, Pierce County conducts a point-in-time count that helps determine numbers of homeless residing in our community. To read that data, please visit https://www.piercecountywa.gov/4719/Homeless-Point-in-Time-PIT-Count. Find Fife’s data on this page: https://www.piercecountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/104281/2021-PIT-Results-PDF-Excel-V3.
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?
Support local agencies that have taken the lead in helping solve the homeless crisis and provide resources and support for the unhoused. The Tacoma Rescue Mission and the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) are regionally known for their work in providing shelter and offering low-income housing opportunities.
Reach the Tacoma Rescue Mission at 425 South Tacoma Way, Tacoma; 253-383-4493; https://www.trm.org/.
Reach LIHI at 1253 S. Jackson St., Tacoma; 206-443-9935; https://lihi.org/contact/.
Support the newly formed Fife Jobs Program. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Connect with the Pierce County Human Services Homeless Programs and ask about volunteer opportunities. The program is an excellent resource that helps support and coordinate entry systems for families and individuals experiencing homelessness. Find out more about their work at piercecountywa.gov/3715/homelessprograms.
Citizens also can become familiar with local community resources through the city’s resource page. Find that information at cityoffife.org/homelessresources.
ENCAMPMENTS: WHAT TO KNOW
The City of Fife has been working to map homeless encampments on public and private property. The city is in the process of collecting that information. You might have concerns about encampments you’ve seen along State Route 509, which is within the City of Tacoma limits, and the WSDOT-owned property in the northern part of Fife. Fife has expressed its concerns to Tacoma as well as WSDOT about encampments on property owned by those agencies. However, Fife lacks authority to remove encampments under the jurisdiction of other agencies. Citizens who would like to report an encampment or view a map of identified encampments may visit cityoffife.org/encampments.