City of Spokane, Catholic Charities announce overnight shelter changes
SPOKANE, Wash. — On Friday afternoon in a joint release, the City of Spokane and Catholic Charities announced they would be cutting back on the amount of overnight sleeping spaces currently available at the now 24/7 House of Charity.
According to Catholic Charities, the House of Charity has operated over capacity for the last year or so, sleeping upwards of 300 men and women and their pets each night.
The building is only intended to sleep 109 men, plus some additional sleeping on the main floor for women. Those are the levels the House of Charity will return to in September. They will also be cutting back hours, closing for several hours for cleaning in the afternoon. They will continue to offer respite care to both men and women.
“At this point Catholic Charities has done 24/7 shelter operations for a year with funding and collaboration with the city and proved it could be done,” said Ann Marie Byrd, Development Director and Media Relations with the charity. “We did incredible work in impossible conditions.”
The city acknowledges that the charity funneled many homeless individuals out of the core of the downtown area, but the overcrowding is causing problems in the House of Charity neighborhood.
Catholic Charities agreed with that assertion, saying the growing population and crowds at House of Charity were beginning to cause unsafe conditions for the folks using the shelter, the neighborhood and their employees.
They say their work over the last year has proven that there is a solution to homelessness in Spokane.
“Our community can solve homelessness, not end homelessness, but solve it in that every chronically homeless person can have a place to sleep eat and shower,” said Byrd.
She says that residents of Spokane may begin to notice more homeless folks around downtown and the area once the changes go into affect, as fewer will have overnight accommodations.
In response the city of Spokane says they will be doubling their funding for outreach.
They say they will also be opening their own shelter mid-2019.
Catholic Charities says they will also be opening three permanent housing projects within the next year and ask for Spokane’s compassion when going through these changes.
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