SPOKANE, Wash. -- The situation for homeless people in Spokane is going to get more difficult.
The last remaining shelter open 24/7 announced Thursday it’s reducing its hours. Catholic Charities said it all comes down to funding.
The City of Spokane contributed $750,000 to the House of Charity, Family Promise and the Salvation Army could provide 24/7 sheltering for homeless men and women in our region. The 24/7 model was announced in November and in January they began to be open all day. By February, officials said it became clear there was not enough funding to keep it going through the rest of the year.
Starting May 1, there will no longer be a shelter open 24/7 for those that need it. City leaders said the $750,000 it provided to fund the shelters was in part diverted from other programs and there's no additional money left to keep the 24/7 model going past May. The city spends nearly $13 million on homeless services like permanent housing, outreach and treatment but don't have any additional funds that could be used to fund the shelter.
Catholic Charities leaders said it costs $125,000 a month or $1.5 million a year to stay open 24/7. They said having the shelters open around the clock decreases other costs like money spent on cleaning up homeless camps, police, medical and fire calls. Once the shelters reduce their hours again in May, they said the city can expect to see those costs go back up.
“Instead of the $125,000 a month it would take to keep us open, the city, county, Valley will spend much more than $125,000 a month in extra police fire, ambulance, those three guys that clean up encampments, you're going to need more than three guys on May 1,” said Rob McCann
Catholic Charities estimates a chronically homeless person can cost the community anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000 per year. Those numbers account for costs to police, fire, ambulance, hospital, court, jail and other social services.
According to Catholic Charities leaders, it cost $3,200 per night to be in the hospital, $140 a night to be in jail but only $12.46 a night to have that same person at House of Charity. The City of Spokane and Catholic Charities said the problem of homelessness needs to be a regional issue.
City Officials thought by May another entity would've stepped up to close the gap in funding. They are asking for both Spokane County and Spokane Valley to provide the additional funds needed.