The City of Puyallup continued its effort to address the growing problem of homelessness as it reviewed recommendations for a new task force.
City Manager Bill McDonald has been working on a process to assemble a group to address homelessness issues in the city. He presented procedural plans to the City Council on Tuesday.
In April, the City Council tasked McDonald and city staff to form a tight core group of community representatives to research issues related to Puyallup’s homeless population and the impacts on the city.
At Tuesday’s meeting, McDonald presented a memo that outlined recommendations for representatives, focus questions and a target date for reviewing the issues.
The task force will include representatives from a mental health service provider, the city’s business community and Puyallup police. A representative from the community will likely be involved. Freezing Nights, a program that gives homeless people a place to stay overnight in Puyallup from November to March each year, will likely be represented on the task force as well.
After discussion and guidance from the City Council on Tuesday, McDonald said he and other city staff will recommend representatives for appointment to the task force. The council will review and appoint the selected members.
The timeline to finish research will be the beginning of August, pushed up from its original deadline of July 9. The city plans to speed the appointment process in order to give the representatives ample time to go over focus questions and analyze public input.
The group will hold twice-monthly public meetings and schedule work sessions as needed. A facilitator will likely be involved in moving the process along.
McDonald said at Tuesday’s meeting that Troy Christensen, who has a background in county government and facilitation, has volunteered to facilitate the group at no cost to the city.
Councilman Kent Boyle said he hopes McDonald and other city staff can appoint members in order to move the process along.
“I want to keep politics out of this,” he said at the meeting.
Deputy Mayor John Knutsen said the task force needs to focus on the most immediate problem, which he says relates to impacts homeless people have had on downtown businesses.
“If we’re to have a task force…(it) should focus on the street people,” he said.
Kari Plog: 253-597-8682