Activists march downtown to end homelessness, advocate for affordable housing

 

SPOKANE, Wash. – “What do we want? Affordable housing. When do we want it? Now,” protesters chanted throughout the march in downtown Spokane.

In the sea of people wanting change, some have experienced homelessness. That includes Hallie Burchinal, who had nowhere to go as a teenager in the 1980s.

“This is a real passion for me. It carries great meaning. I know the challenges,” she told 4 News Now.

The challenges of living on the streets, it’s an experience protesters want to help end.

Michael Larson, the director of Humanizing Spokane, which organized the protest, said there is misunderstanding about the root cause of homelessness.

“It’s really a housing crisis that Spokane’s going through,” Larson said.

Larson, Burchinal and many others marched for change on Saturday.

The group asked for three things:

  • Tenant protections to help people facing evictions, or prevent landlords from evicting without cause.
  • Eliminating single-family zoning so more affordable housing can be built and “reduces segregation,” Humanizing Spokane said.
  • Public facilities – hoping for more facilities to help people access public bathrooms and clean water.

“It’s not necessarily the drugs or the mental health issues that are the root cause to this. We’re trying to address the root causes and trying to create long term solution in the city,” Larson said.

Though Burchinal was out at the protest marching Saturday, that’s only one thing she’s been doing to advocate for those experiencing homelessness. Burchinal is the executive director for Compassionate Addiction Treatment, helping those in need help themselves.

“Everybody’s there by choice, asking for help. So, they didn’t do this to themselves, they’re looking for a way out,” she told 4 News Now.

The way out for those experiencing homelessness started with some help with others alongside them, marching for that change.

“It takes all of us in order to create the long term solutions that this city needs,” said Larson. “It’s not going to be from dehumanizing and criminalizing the homeless, but it’s going to be working together to create long term solutions that build more affordable housing to get people off the streets.”