• Thu. Dec 8th, 2022

Jewels Helping Hands hires volunteers to clean up Camp I-90/Freya

ByDebra J. Aguilar

Sep 15, 2022

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

SPOKANE, Wash. — As the city plans to clean up the homeless encampment near I-90 and Freya, nonprofits are hiring staff to help with 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 to more permanent options.

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

“We’re helping people prepare for the next steps, and that will include housing, all inclusive,” said volunteer Sharyl Brown. “So we will work with the other partners who come here and pure supports.”

“Connection is what’s key,” said volunteer Ali Grounds. “Because when they’re ready to do something, they’re going to talk to us.”

Once they learn that someone is ready to leave the camp, they connect them with housing managers and social workers. After settling in, volunteers say they schedule follow-ups with former campers.

Brown and Grounds say the moving process can be difficult, but they make it simple.

“I’ve met so many people here who tell me they have housing, but they don’t know who they’re working with,” Brown said. “And they don’t know what action to take. So our goal is to keep track of everyone and who they’re working with and what they’re working on. So that we can help connect all the dots and actually make it happen Something.”

Volunteers say challenges with moving people out of camp include people unwilling to leave the privacy of their tents for open-concept shelters like Trent’s.

“There are people who would love the little pallet homes, there are people who would love a transitional life,” Grounds said. “There are people who are maybe elderly, who need a little help, maybe assisted living, and so we’re just looking at all avenues.”

Volunteers say that over the past two weeks they have helped 17 people transition into shelters, living with family members and stable employment with housing included.

Also, another challenge is that most people don’t have ID cards. Volunteers say Jewels plans to use funds from the Washington Department of Commerce to cover identification costs and help close that gap. Additionally, they say the next step is to prep people with Social Security cards, a process that is expected to begin Thursday.

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