City and county governments in Washington will lose some ability to restrict church-hosted homeless encampments under a bill that passed 56-42 Friday in the House of Representatives.
OLYMPIA — City and county governments in Washington will lose some ability to restrict church-hosted homeless encampments under a bill that passed 56-42 Friday in the House of Representatives.
The measure guarantees churches will be able to host encampments for at least eight months a year, though local governments can bar the camps from lasting longer. Towns, cities and counties could limit the camps to lasting four months at a time, and require a buffer of up to three months between each encampment.
“It respects our religious institutions … that need, and must, and through history have been able to provide sanctuary for those in need,” said the bill’s lead sponsor, Rep. Joan McBride, D-Kirkland.
The bill follows several years of local governments making laws, thereby creating an uneven legal landscape for the “tent cities” of homeless. There are six such encampments in King County, and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray this year proposed hosting three new one-year encampments for up to 100 people on city land.
Most Read Local Stories
- 'Wretched human being' for president: How the Spokane paper's bizarre plug for Trump revealed a hard truth
- Coronavirus daily news updates, October 28: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world VIEW
- Dori Monson back on the air, with apology and 'praying for healing'
- Did your ballot reach its destination? Here's how to track it in Washington state
- South King County has been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus VIEW
Other places have tried to establish restrictions citing health and safety, though the state Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that Woodinville obstructed a church’s freedom of religion when it refused to consider an application to host a camp.
The measure now heads to the Senate for consideration.