Tours This Wednesday and Thursday!
An Exemplary Effort to Deal with Homelessness Up North
People are rendered homeless by economic and social circumstances that are often beyond their control. Homelessness is a growing problem not just in Spokane, but throughout the nation, including many small towns and rural areas where homeless people are often less visible than recent times in larger cities.
Colville is such a place. Colville, a pleasant 70 mile drive north of Spokane on US-395, is the county seat of Stevens County. Colville’s population is around 5,000, the Stevens County latest estimate is around 47,000. Like Spokane, but on a smaller scale, Colville lacks functional, affordable housing for the poor and those of modest means. Like Spokane’s Woodward administration, it seems that government of Colville would much prefer to sweep the issue under the rug and, in both cases, probably would if it were not for Martin v. Boise, the 2018 Ninth Circuit ruling that held that “cities cannot enforce anti-camping ordinances if they do not have enough homeless shelter beds available for their homeless population.” I don’t have the specifics at my fingertips, but there is a Colville-government-owned and tolerated, minimally-serviced area on the edge of town that serves as a homeless camp.
A local family physician, Dr. Barry Bacon, and his wife Shelley, both thoroughly committed to helping the less fortune, have over several years have dedicated themselves to providing medical care and affordable housing in Colville. They are chipping away at the issues not by holding meetings on the upper floors of a local bank, but by planning, showing up, pitching in, and getting their hands dirty, as well as advocating for additional governmental and citizen involvement. Suzi Hokonson, a local Spokane personage with an active interest in this issue, has been arranging on-the-ground tours in Colville with Barry and Shelley taking part. I attended a tour about a month ago. I found it enlightening and inspiring. There are slots available on tours this Wednesday and Thursday. Check out the invitation below and contact Suzi at the email address at the bottom if you can spare the time visit and learn.
We’ve scheduled two more visits to Colville, Wednesday and Thursday, June 14 and 15th.
We will start at 9:30 and meet at Dr. Barry Bacon’s clinic which is 250 S. Main - in the back parking lot.
Lunch will be provided at 11:30 in the park afterwards, with Dr. Barry, Shelley, plus other community activists joining us.
14 people were able to join us in May, and everyone had a truly memorable 2+ hours.
It’s truly remarkable when to people of faith choose to live their life to bring about change.
I am so humbled and honored to have Shelley and Barry in my life.
Please let me know if one of these dates will work for you. We will be limiting it to 15 people each day.
Contact Suzi Hokonson at (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Keep to the high ground,
P.S. Last week and this weekend there was abundant coverage in local media on the ahead-of-promised closure of Camp Hope last Friday. A lot of the coverage centered on the upcoming Spokane race for City Mayor with a Spokesman front-page, top of page headline article entitled “Who will voters believe come November?” by Emry Dinman. The same author also provided a lengthy chronicle of 18 months of Camp Hope—a good reminder of the twists and turns. Both articles are interesting but I think miss the greater point at our peril: Homelessness as a problem in our society, here and elsewhere, is destined to grow. The pressing questions are, “What is the best method of addressing it? What are the underlying currents that are worsening the problem? And how can we meaningfully intervene to lesson the trajectory? If we don’t find answers to those questions we, and a whole lot of people less well off than most of my readers, are in for a very long and painful ordeal.