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Longview orders homeless residents out of temporary site as Alabama Street cleanup ends
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Longview orders homeless residents out of temporary site as Alabama Street cleanup ends

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Alabama Street

A homeless man walks through the temporary parking lot campsite on Alabama Street in early October 2021.

Residents of the temporary homeless encampment on Alabama Street are returning to the original site, one month after they were removed to allow for a city-led cleanup process

Longview city workers posted signs Wednesday morning around the parking lot that has served as the temporary homeless encampment for the last several weeks. The posted signs tell homeless residents to vacate the parking lot by 8 p.m. Sunday. Cleanup efforts for whatever is left behind in the lot will begin Monday morning.

The lot, which directly borders the original temporary campsite, was a city-owned employee parking lot before becoming a temporary replacement campsite. The posted signs say that next week Longview will conduct a “removal of all individuals, personal property, garbage and or debris from the city’s property.”

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Homeless residents were moved out of the original Alabama Street campsite beginning Sept. 13 after the city declared a public health emergency for the temporary site over unsanitary conditions. A city contractor hauled truckloads of trash and leftover materials out of the campsite in late September, cut down damaged trees and repaired the fence that rings the campsite.

Jerry Wilkins, a Cowlitz Family Health Center worker who was contracted by Longview to work with homeless residents during the moves, said the process of moving back to the original site was going faster than the move in September. Wilkins thought the experience of being at a cleaner temporary site with clearly marked spaces for each campsite would improve the experience going forward.

“It’s the same marked-out spots now at the old site, so I think they’re happy to have a spot they can claim as theirs,” Wilkins said.

Tent site layouts also will make the cleaned campsite more navigable. The access issues posed by sprawling, cluttered sites had been a secondary reason for the public health emergency declaration.

According to the posted signs, the Longview Police Department temporarily will seize any property worth more than $100 that is left in the parking lot. Owners will have 60 days to reclaim belongings from the police.

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