The Metropolitan King County Council has approved legislation allowing tent encampments to operate in the county’s unincorporated areas for another 10 years.
The county has permitted the homeless encampments since adopting a Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness more than nine years ago.
Homelessness has hardly ended in that time, with almost 10,000 households turning to the county for help in 2013.
The council’s vote Monday to continue the current policy for tent cities was unanimous.
The new legislation lengthens the time an encampment can stay in one location from three months to four and requires an emergency-contact number to be posted at the site, among other changes.
The tent cities usually have between 40 and 90 campers at sites sponsored by religious organizations.
The council made several last-minute amendments Monday.
One will allow the agency managing an encampment to contact the county’s 2-1-1 crisis clinic when children show up at a site rather than immediately calling Child Protective Services, as is currently required.
Another will prohibit registered sex offenders and people with outstanding warrants for violent offenses from residing in tent cities.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray in October convened an emergency task force to review, among other homelessness issues, the city’s policy on encampments.
The group’s recommendations are due later this month.