As temperatures drop in the northwest it’s important to remember that all citizens of downtown are in need of shelter and support this winter.
Downtown Spokane urges the community to participate by giving real change this holiday season to the organizations supporting short and long-term opportunity in our community. Urban environments like downtown Spokane attract people from all walks of life. We want people to be eager to live, work and play here. Part of that is ensuring it’s safe and that we connect people who need help with the resources that can make a real difference.
Several weeks ago Spokane Mayor David Condon, City Council President Ben Stuckart and Rob McCann, executive director of Catholic Charities, announced the 24/7 opening of the warming center at the House of Charity (HOC), a program of Catholic Charities Spokane. This is all part of an effort that was put into motion early this summer.
The HOC has been operating at a deficit the past few years as federal, state and local funding for emergency shelter services has gone down dramatically while needs and costs continue to rise. The Catholic Charities Board advised that this was no longer sustainable, and in January 2016 the House of Charity had to reduce both services and hours of operation. This immediately led to a noticeable growth in the number of homeless people on our streets. The HOC is recognized for their cost effective operations and as a hub for collaboration with other agencies that connects people with life-changing services that can break the cycle of homelessness. It is one of the few programs in our city that provides emergency shelter and essential amenities such as laundry, showers, gear storage and mail delivery.
Because of the seriousness of the situation the City of Spokane has stepped up with $200,000 and has committed to do all they can to sustain the HOC at current levels. The Downtown Spokane Partnership and Business Improvement District Boards committed $25,000 in direct funding and have pledged to match another $25,000 if individuals and business are willing to join in with financial support. By joining together to eliminate this shortfall, we can prevent further decline in services that will not only put the homeless population at risk, but force more people onto the streets downtown because they simply have no place else to go.
If you want to give, support real change by donating to local organizations that make a measurable difference and change lives every day. When you give to local organizations you fund real change. People who genuinely need and want help will receive it. Trained professionals can match needs with services and empower people to build a better life.
How to give
- Contributions can be mailed directly to The House of Charity PO Box 2253, Spokane, WA 99210-2253.The House of Charity is a program of Catholic Charities Spokane which is an exempt organization as described in Section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code; EIN# 91-0569880. Contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Please indicate your contribution will be matched by Downtown Spokane.
- Individuals can contribute by texting “Change” to 50555 and a $5 charge donation will appear on your next cell phone bill. All contributions received between now and May 31, 2017 will benefit the House of Charity.
Compassion at the source often means taking time from your day to find the right solution for an individual in need. Downtown Spokane and SNAP have partnered to create the “Homeless Resource Pocket Guide” which can be printed and folded into a small portable pamphlet for a reference or given away.
To give your time and talent, look for opportunities at Spokane Gives on the City of Spokane website at my.spokanecity.org. Spokane is a leader in volunteerism. The Spokane Gives initiative expands on the strong philanthropic efforts already in our region.
Other organization making a measurable difference who need your help include
- Union Gospel Mission Ministries provides food, shelter, clothing, medicine, eye care, and counseling. www.ugmspokane.org | (509) 535-8510
- YouthREACH provides mental health care services and case management to youths on the street. It also provides opportunities for youth to train and gain work experience.
- Volunteers of America’s Crosswalk Youth Shelter serves our communities most vulnerable youth and specializes in helping homeless kids ages 13-17 to find emergency shelter, meals to eat, a school to complete their high school diploma or GED, substance abuse counseling and access to on site nurse care. In October Crosswalk lost its main Federal funding source, Comprising 36% of its annual budget, to Western Washington. To keep their doors open, Crosswalk has partnered with SafetyNet on a Go-Fund-Me page in hopes to close the financial gap. Organizations and individuals may donate to this fund at https://www.gofundme.com/help-us-help-spokanes-kids-2wbxxjpk.
- Hope Works. The City of Spokane, Spokane Transit Authority, Downtown Spokane and Goodwill Industries Northwest are in the beginning implementation stages of a program that offers short-term earning opportunities for homeless individuals. Partnering through Goodwill allows access to further job-training to those individuals who want to move from joblessness to a permanent source of income. To find out how to contribute or offer employment, contact Downtown Spokane at 509.456.0580.