SPOKANE, Wash. — Those living at Camp Hope on 2nd Ave. in East Central Spokane have been braving the elements - a challenge made more difficult by the current cold front sweeping through the area.
Those difficulties aren't lost on Jerry and Mary Bishop.
"Last night, it struck me. I was outside for five minutes on my pipes, and I was freezing to death. I thought, 'My god. What have the homeless people been doing? How are they surviving?'," said Jerry.
The couple decided to bring supplies to Camp Hope, such as firewood, fire pits, sleeping bags, pillows and hot soup.
"These are people. These are someone's mom, someone's dad, someone's daughter, someone's brother. These are humans, they're beloved people," Jerry said.
The Bishops aren't a part of a larger group working to help the homeless. The couple are using their own money to bring the camp supplies in an effort to help those going through hard times.
"They were so gracious to have some firewood and some hot soup. You know, very, very gracious, very grateful. There's a lot of people here that just ,they just need a hand. Not everyone here is here by choice," Jerry said.
This comes as the City of Spokane said it has worked to expand shelter capacity during the cold snap. City Spokesperson Brian Coddington said in the past few days, about 5 dozen beds have been added to the local shelter system.
That includes 40 hotel rooms and 16 beds for women between Union Gospel Mission and Volunteers of America. The Way Out Shelter has also been providing 41 beds to ease the strain on the nightly shelter system.
"We were able to add additional space yesterday, and we're continuing to add space. There are spots in the system that are still unused, and we focused on areas that were historically need areas," Coddington said.
When asked if the city was prepared for the current cold snap, Coddington said, "absolutely."
On Tuesday, the City announced it had explored opening a temporary shelter space at a City Streets Department Property on North Florida Street. The location already had fencing for security, along with open space and electricity infrastructure to provide heating.
However, after pushback from the surrounding communities, the City scrapped that idea.
"As we started talking to stakeholders, to include the council members who represent the Northeast, and some of the neighbors, they had some very passionate objections to it," Coddington.
Coddington said pretty much every time the city has explored a site for new shelters, there has been push back from the surrounding neighborhoods. However, he said the city wants to be able to come to an agreement or compromise with a neighborhood to locate new shelter space, they don't want to force a neighborhood to accept a new facility.