Why not try real solutions?
Spokane could just decide to love its community more. Everyone wants less crime, but leaning on police to do all the work just creates more prisoners. We need to actually invest in our community; in each other.
The Spokane City Council is pushing for better reporting on homelessness numbers and more “low-barrier” shelters. Mayor Nadine Woodward opposes this plan, saying people who don’t go to shelters simply don’t want to.
“People are not shelter resistant, they are resistant to particular situations that don’t meet their mental health needs,” Council President Breean Beggs said. “Our job is to understand it, and we can solve it.”
On Monday, July 26, the Spokane City Council voted to require Mayor Nadine Woodward’s administration to provide more consistent data on the number of people in Spokane who lack housing and shelter. The Council also blocked the administration from funding high-barrier shelters when the city lacks low-barrier shelters.
The council adopted these rules under an emergency ordinance that blocks the mayor from issuing a veto.
Mayor Woodward has favored a high-barrier approach, meaning those using shelters must meet certain requirements, such as sobriety, current identification and participation in religious, recovery and financial programs. Sex and age restrictions often mean people can’t stay with their friends and families. Woodward says that many people who currently lack housing are “shelter-averse,” and that her approach focuses on “identifying those who are ready to take those steps and connecting them to intensive, short-term wrap around services.”
But that model blocks immediate access, and it doesn’t work for everyone. “People are not shelter resistant, they are resistant to particular situations that don’t meet their mental health needs,” Council President Breean Beggs said. “Our job is to understand it, and we can solve it.”
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, most people experiencing homelessness don’t require intensive services. And with the risks of a global pandemic and life-threatening temperatures, combined with the fact that Spokane rents are increasing at one of the highest rates in the nation, people need access to safe shelter now.
Housing justice is racial justice. SCAR embraces a vision in which peoples’ needs are met, regardless of their ability to meet certain peoples’ idea of “readiness.”