SPOKANE, Wash. - Back in May, the City of Spokane announced a plan to develop a 24/7 shelter system to bring anyone who needs it out of the cold. Mayor David Condon announced the second step towards establishing that system.
Homelessness in Spokane is a serious problem that needs a serious solution. Hundreds of people struggle daily in our community.
House of Charities announced that started November 1, its opening its doors as a warming shelter to give people a safe place to stay throughout the winter months regardless of temperature. The 24/7 shelter provides separated sleeping areas for men and women as well as an awake space that allows couples to stay together. For the first time, pets will be allowed as long as your animal is able to stay quiet and not show signs of aggression.
"As a community, in Spokane, we are a very generous and compassionate place to live in the Pacific Northwest. And we believe strongly no one, no one should sleep outside. We're better than that as a community and today really announces that. From the tops of the roofs, we're going to shout that," Robert McCann, Executive Director of Catholic Charities, said.
While the goal is to fully fund a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week emergency shelter by 2017, there's a gap in budget. It will cost the city $1.37 million per year. Currently, $780,000 has been raised, with money coming from a $250,000 investment from the City Council and by reallocating money the city spends on warming shelters and other existing programs. But that leaves a nearly $600,000 gap.
The city says homelessness is down five percent from last year and family homelessness has decreased every year for the past five years. While Spokane has made progress, the city says we still have a long way to go.