Local News

Businesses near House of Charity fed up with trash, loitering

SPOKANE, Wash. - Business owners near Spokane's House of Charity are fed up with the littering, and loitering that's taking over their storefronts. Many shops are demanding the shelter to step in and take responsibility.
Mimi Ewers teaches ballet next door to the shelter. When she arrived to work Thursday, she found blankets, garbage, and food covering her sidewalk outside. She said many parents are uncomfortable dropping off their children while transients sleep on sidewalks.
"I have had families who have told me, 'Mimi, we love your studio, but we don't feel safe,'" said Ewers.
Many businesses say the homeless crowd is scaring away customers. One property owner has struggled to find tenants to fill his empty shop for the last two years. The man, who did not want to be identified, said he has seen a large amount of people interested in leasing his space, but when they look down the street, they get scared away.
Catholic House of Charity said they are aware of the frustration. 
"We know how difficult it is for our neighbors on this block, and so we've put into place some pretty serious programming for them," said the charity's CEO Rob McCann.
 The shelter spends about $300,000 every year on security guards and street cleaners, but businesses say the problem is only getting worse. House of Charity said not all of its homeless clients are to blame.
"There's a large group of drug dealers and pimps, and people that are up to no good," said McCann. Some businesses agree, and want to work with the charity to make conditions better for everyone involved.
"We all probably need to work together," said Kim Culberson, who manages the McGinnity Room next door. "It's a community problem, we can't just put it on them."
House of Charity has set up a hotline for businesses to call in if they have loitering of garbage complaints. Since August, staff at the shelter has responded to more than 200 calls.