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Jewels Helping Hands hiring people to move homeless out of encampment near I-90

As more housing opportunities open up for the homeless in Spokane, volunteers want to guide them into more permanent options.

SPOKANE, Wash. — As the City looks toward clearing out the homeless encampment near I-90 and Freya, non-profits are hiring staff to ease the transition.

With more housing opportunities opening up like the Trent Shelter and transitional housing potentially coming to the Quality Inn on Sunset Blvd., Jewels Helping Hands wants to guide people into more permanent options.

Jewels Helping Hands peer support and housing volunteers say their role is to make connections.

"We're helping people get ready to take next steps, and that'll include the housing, everything all inclusive," Volunteer Sharyl Brown said. "So, we'll be working with the other partners that are coming out here and pure supports."

"The connection is what is the key," Volunteer Ali Grounds said. "Because when they're ready to go do something, they're going to be talking to us."

Once they learn someone is ready to move out of the camp, they connect them with housing managers and case workers. After they've settled in, volunteers say they schedule follow-ups with ex-campers.

Brown and Grounds say the process of moving out can be difficult, but they simplify things.

"I've met so many people out here that tell me that they have housing, but they don't know who they're working with," Brown said. "And they don't know what steps to take. So like, our goal is to keep track of everybody and who they're working with and what they're working on. So that we can help connect all the dots and actually make something happen."

 Volunteers say challenges in moving people out of the camp include people not wanting to leave the privacy of their tents for open-concept shelters like the one on Trent.

"There's some people that would like the little pallet houses, there's some people that would like transitional living," Grounds said. "There's some people that maybe are elderly, that need a little bit of help, maybe some assisted living, and so we're just looking at all the avenues."

Volunteers say in the last couple weeks, they've helped 17 people transition to shelters, living with family members and stable employment with housing included.

In addition, another challenge is that most people don't have identification cards. Volunteers say Jewels plans to use Washington Department of Commerce funds to cover identification fees and help bridge this gap. Furthermore, they say the next step is getting people set up with social security cards, a process expected to begin on Thursday.

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