Jeff Humphrey

Shelter Offers “Way Out” of Homelessness

Jeff Humphrey, Media Manager, 509.625.6308

Wednesday, October 7, 2020 at 3:27 p.m.

When guests wake up inside Spokane’s new emergency shelter, they get a welcome chance to feel secure, stable, and supported. Three things anyone needs when they’re trying to get their life back on track.

“For some, it’s ‘I just need a safe place to stay.’ For some, ‘it’s I’m ready to get out of my addiction. I’m ready to tackle that problem,’ ” said Gerriann Armstrong, Manager of the Salvation Army’s “The Way Out Shelter”.

For many people without homes, just finding life’s basic necessities means a daily migration in search of services.

But at the shelter, registered guests can get just about everything they need in one location, giving them more time to resolve their issues like housing and employment.

Each resident can store their belongings in closely watched totes so valuables are less likely to be stolen.

“My stuff is safe and that frees me up to go look for work without worrying about where I need to go to get my stuff back,” explained guest Ernest Anderson.

“The Way Out Shelter,” is trying to live up to its name by removing the barriers that can stand in the way of people accessing help.

It’s one of the few places willing to house couples and, like all city-funded shelters, accepts guests with pets including 67-year-old Jo Tabor.

“This place is 110 percent because I can have my dogs and they’re right next to me in the kennel or, if they want to, or I want to, they can sleep right next to me in the bed,” Tabor said with a smile.

Even though “The Way Out” is considered a temporary shelter, the Salvation Army Staff is focused on finding more permanent solutions for its guests.

Cassandra Carm is helping a man named Tracy replace his stolen I-D so he can work again. Carm found Stan Presley a new walker.

“And Cassandra stepped right into the mix without me even having to consult with her and next thing you know, I’m sitting on this before even have to go where I’m going,” recalled Presley.

The stable environment created by the staff at this Mission Avenue shelter has already helped several people find housing and allowed more than a half dozen men to find work at construction and day labor jobs.

“So they’re now able to say ‘You know what? Now I can afford to get into a place’, or kinda work on the next piece. Buddy up with somebody at work split some housing, that kind of stuff,” explained Armstrong.

Even guests who are still looking for opportunities feel compelled to pitch in and help maintain this joint City-County shelter

“That’s my deal. I’m just trying to do it because it makes me feel good. I’m helping my brothers and sisters. When I don’t feel that I can’t contribute in any other way, or in any other area right now, this is where I can be helpful. So that’s what I’m doing,” said Jennifer Bozarth as she cleaned the shelter’s hand washing station.

And, just after bed checks and the shelter’s 9:00 pm curfew, guests who can recall a pair of positive things that happened to them are rewarded with a couple chocolate kisses.

Setting the stage for what could be another day of accomplishments tomorrow.

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