Spokane wants your donations to go to charitable organizations, not individuals

Spokane wants your donations to go to charitable organizations, not individuals

Elected officials and downtown business owners are urging you to “give real change,” or donate to charitable organizations, instead of individuals.

Sprague Avenue is a light industrial area, so when workers at Royal Upholstery lock up and go home for the night, the transients move in. They dive into dumpsters, and take dumps on sidewalks.

And sometimes transients who have slipped in under the cover of darkness are still sleeping it off when the sun comes up. That is until Royal’s employees roust them out. But the garbage that they leave behind creates a litter problem for the business.

“Either they empty our dumpster and we have to put it back in the dumpster or we are cleaning up massive amounts of trash from the side of the building,” said Krista Featherstone of Royal Upholstery.

The cans and containers in that trash tells where contributions to panhandlers are going.

“It’s definitely going to drugs and alcohol,” said Featherstone. “It’s beginning to take a lot of our time and resources, not to mention the safety hazards. We have picked up hypodermic needles and human feces.”

Featherstone feels people who give money to panhandlers are inadvertently bankrolling problems like litter, crimes, and substance abuse.

It may also be delaying transients getting the help and services they really need.

“As we know from talking with the non-profit leaders, many of them are using it for destructive behaviors and it’s not good for them,” said Mark Richard of Downtown Spokane Partnership. “It’s not helping them to a sustainable, better path.”

Transients and prostitution have plagued Sprague for decades. On Tuesday, Featherstone will testify in Donna Perry’s triple murder trial. That’s because key evidence in the case was found in Royal Upholstery’s dumpster 27 years ago.

Featherstone hopes that if you want to help homeless people in Spokane, that you will give to charitable organizations that can help them.