Hundreds with No Place to Sleep when House of Charity Closes at the End of April

Finding funding for charities is no easy feat. But the consequences of a lack of funding can be life-threatening for the people those charities help.

For example, funding woes are causing the House of Charity in Spokane, WA to close at the end of April, putting about 200 homeless people out in the cold. According to Catholic Charities, the organization running the program, there just isn’t enough money to keep things going.

Previously, the City of Spokane contributed about $1 million to the 24/7 shelter, which originally focused on homeless men but opened its doors to women and children in November. This year, however, the city isn’t able to contribute at all, which puts the House of Charity at a $500,000 gap in funding.

“They’re doing a great job of maintaining and holding it together,” said current homeless resident Bob Auxier. “But it takes money to do these things.”

House of Charity has been open since 1958, accepting any resident in need, including those suffering from mental health issues and addiction. In addition to basic shelter and food, House of Charity provides additional emergency services and case management for the underserved homeless population in Spokane.

There are other options for the homeless in need: the Salvation Army and the Union Gospel Mission also provide shelter, and the Community Court at the downtown library has other information and resources readily available.

But cutting down on available space for desperate homeless men, women, and children is likely to lead to a variety of problems.

House of Charity director Rob McCann is making a last ditch effort to keep the program running, including appealing to the better natures of potential donors.

“We’re currently giving more to animal shelters than we are to human shelters in the region,” McCann pointed out. He’s also written letters to every county commissioner and Spokane Valley City Council member, with little to show for it.

Part of the problem is a shift in the city’s tactics for dealing with its homeless population. Within the past five years, the focus has shifted from shelters to more permanent housing projects like Father Bach Haven, also run by Catholic Charities.

While McCann agrees that these housing projects are a good long term solution, in the meantime, diverted funds means fewer shelters to help people who are suffering right now.

Furthermore, he argues, taxpayers would pay less to support charities like House of Charity than they currently do to subsidize the emergency services and jail stays of chronically homeless individuals.

“These are simple math decisions,” he said.