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Local businessman reports homeless encampments to city daily

Sheldon Jackson spends an hour and a half every morning driving downtown Spokane streets to document encampments set up by people experiencing homelessness.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The consistent rain early Wednesday morning didn't stop local business owner and city of Spokane advocate Sheldon Jackson from continuing his routine of driving the streets of Downtown to document encampments set up by people experiencing homelessness. 

For the past seven months Jackson has taken to the streets six days a week. He compiles a report of how common encampments compare to the days before. He then sends that report to Spokane's city hall.

This is not Jackson's job, though. He volunteers his time because of a passion that stems from his love for Spokane.

"I've been here since '89. Love the city," Jackson said. "Just want to make sure we don't lose our city." 

Jackson wants Spokane to be the cleanest and safest city in the west. The route he drives focuses specifically on places tourists would first see when entering the city.

Since starting his daily route, he has seen improvement. His reports used to show worsening conditions, but recent reports show mostly better conditions at hot-spots.

"We're living in an urban area. It's never going to be perfect, but don't dwell on the negative. Dwell on the positive," Jackson said.

City spokesperson Brian Coddington said the city receives Jackson's reports and uses them to help their work decreasing hot-spots. He said the city also added more 24/7 shelters for people to stay.

The shelters are open for drop-in spaces to anyone who needs help. The city is trying to build relationships and trust between people experiencing homelessness and the services that help them off the streets.

"That's what it's all about. To get people out of homelessness and to get them into services that help them," Coddington said.

Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward's proposed 2022 budget doubles the number of clean up crew workers. That would make four permanent teams for the city.