‘Do something now’: Neighbors plead for long-term change to decrease homelessness

SPOKANE, Wash. — With a new homeless shelter set to open and proposed ordinances to stop camping on city property, neighbors are still asking for long-term change to address the growing issue.

The Mayor is opening a new shelter outside of the downtown core, but that still wasn’t enough to keep Heather Stratford’s business in the heart of the city. She’s tired of walking over people and worrying about her employees’ safety.

“We looked at lots of different buildings, and we just said downtown is not in the picture right now — not until they do something,” Stratford said. She’s the CEO & Founder of Drip7, a tech startup company in Spokane.

The city’s doing something by opening a new shelter at 4320 E. Trent Ave. which should be ready by August 1. For those living near the homeless camp in East Central, that date can’t come soon enough.

“I’m hoping that the camp will get dissolved over time preferably quickly,” said Mathew King. He lives right next to the homeless camp that’s sleeping around 500 people.

A new shelter is on the horizon, but that’s not the only change we could see.

The City Council’s introduced new ordinances that would make camping on certain city property illegal. It’s changes like this neighbors say could help.

“Get the homeless off the street, and do something now, or it will be too late and we’ll end up like Seattle,” Stratford exclaimed.

“The city probably should have done something a long time ago about it,” King added.

Sleeping outside isn’t good for anyone, and these longtime residents just want to see homelessness decrease so everyone is safer.

“The sooner the better [a new shelter opens] because at least we know they’re getting some kind of help,” King concluded.

This next month is extremely important for the community. The new homeless shelter is set to open, and we could see a vote on these sit-and-lie camping ordinances at the same time.

READ: ‘Sucking the oxygen out of the room’: City Council approves shelter lease as community pleads for change