LEWISTON, ID — Now to a special report on the homelessness issue here in the LC Valley, and a proposal by the Spokane Union Gospel Mission to build a shelter on Snake River Avenue.
When visiting the Spokane UGM, residents gave us an idea of what the shelter looks like there, and what their thoughts are living there.
In August, the Lewiston City Council discussed a proposed union Gospel Mission Shelter where many local residents spoke expressing support. But others shared fears and concerns.
Union Gospel Mission of Spokane Executive Director Phil Altmeyer said, “I would welcome those that are concerned; come to Spokane, visit our facilities, take a look at what's happened."
Justin met three current residents, Devin, Brandon, and Isaiah, at the facility on Trent Avenue in Spokane.
"As soon as I walked in that door and experienced how kind and caring people are here, it took all of the stress and all of the negative feelings away and made me feel like I wasn't alone,” Isaiah said.
Devin previously worked at a low barrier shelter in Spokane saying, “It’s basically survival."
Devin said it was a place for people to go, no matter what shape they were in, to just get out of the elements. He said Union Gospel Mission Spokane is a high barrier shelter that is a very different experience.
"They challenge you to look into the source of your problems; how you ended up getting to be where you're at,” said Devin.
Devin says the Spokane Union Gospel Mission puts its residents into programs to allow them to safely and successfully re-enter society.
"It's a long-term solution for a pretty serious and growing problem,” said Devin.
For Brandon, he started finding his way in life when an addiction took back ahold of him.
"I was doing well,” he said. “I thought I was living life, about to finance a Mercedes for the first time, I was working two jobs, and I gave it all up due to a relapse."
Brandon spent time at the Union Gospel Mission facilities in Seattle and Tacoma. He said those facilities were a different experience than the Union Gospel Mission in Spokane.
"They wouldn't drug test us,” he said. “We could go in there high. They wouldn't breathalyze us, so we were going in high, drunk, we were doing drugs in the bathroom."
Brandon said a point where he knew he wanted help and wanted to get better.
"I'm just tired of living life getting high on some substance,” said Brandon. “I would rather get high on life.
That brought him to Union Gospel Mission in Spokane.
“I don't know what's going on in my life, but I'm gaining myself back, and that's all I can ever ask for,” said Devin. “God's given that opportunity in my life."
Isaiah described the environment at the UGM in Spokane saying, “Extremely clean, literally and of drugs and alcohol. It’s good if you want a place with structure."
The UGM men’s shelter has dorms, a lounge, fitness center and artwork that lines the walls.
"I’ve never felt as accepted as I am right now,” said Devin.
"It restores my faith in humanity seeing how people interact here and how there's community here,” said Isaiah.
"There is hope in the people that are lost,” said Devin.