How many are experiencing homelessness in Spokane? Volunteers hit city streets to find out

SPOKANE, Wash. — This week, hundreds of volunteers will hear from Spokane’s homeless to get a better understanding of how to help. 

The valuable data is part of the City of Spokane’s Point-in-Time Count, which started on Thursday. 

It’s a census that influences where and how much money goes toward a variety of programs that help people experiencing homelessness. 

The survey isn’t possible without volunteers, and the City says more people staffed up this year than ever before. 

“In order to give help to the homeless, I think it’s important that everybody does that and gets a count so they know how many people they need to help,” said Randy Wilks. 

It took Wilks just six minutes to finish the survey. 

Volunteers use an app to collect all sorts of questions. One being how someone ended up on the street to begin with. 

“My mother died in 2005 and after that I just kind of took a nosedive and have been doing a lot of things I should not be doing out on the street and it hit me really hard,” said Wilks. 

He says he used drugs to cope with the pain. He ended up losing his job and just about everything else. 

“Spokane has a lot of good resources,” said Wilks. “We just need to find the mix that’s gonna fit that person at the time.” 

Wilks found a way to build himself back up- at the Union Gospel Mission- and he’s since been motivated to take his life back. 

Volunteers will continue visiting shelters over the next week. City outreach employees will be going through alleys and surveying people not living in a shelter. 

Results from the survey will be published in several weeks.