SPOKANE, Wash. — Thursday marked the start of Spokane's "Point in Time" census, adding up the number of people living homeless, both on the streets and in shelters.
The city said this information is necessary to better serve the needs of the homeless population.
The director of Open Doors Family Shelter, Joe Ader, said some of the increase in homeless populations may be from the fact that we are now actively trying to measure and combat homelessness in an orchestrated way.
Open Doors Family Shelter has been operating just more than a year now. This gives the shelter a unique perspective, as they have been able to see the increasing population within the facility.
Ader said he’s encouraged by the city's steps to better address homelessness but he has been seeing an increase in need to the point that the shelter has become overwhelmed.
“We've been increasing in our numbers. We are full every night. We're actually having to turn families away just about every night just because we're at max capacity, and so there's a lot of families, a lot of need right now,” Ader said. “And I don't see that decreasing any time soon.”
The director said shelters see a significant jump in numbers right after the holidays each year. This presented a problem after the most recent holiday season, as Open Doors Family Shelter was already at max capacity.
Officials at Goodwill said they agree; there is a shortage of affordable housing in Spokane, putting a lot of stress on low income individuals and families.
To help combat homelessness in Spokane, officials said you can give or donate to any area shelter. They typically see a dip in donations after the holiday season, just as the need begins to increase.