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Spokane’s Camp Hope Shuts Down: Hundreds Transitioned to Shelter, Many Remain on Streets

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Post Mortem in Spokane

On Friday, “Camp Hope” shut down for good. At one point, organizers claimed more than 600 homeless people lived on this piece of WSDOT (@wsdot_east) property in the East Central neighborhood. After 18 months, more than half ended up in shelters or housing options that made sense for them. But officials say a few hundred likely ended up back on the city’s streets for various reasons.

I spent the weekend trying to understand what worked and didn’t work. Camp Hope organizers say determining all that is going to take some time but everyone’s progress is being tracked. And some are saying this could be a model for sanctioned encampments.

As for the state of the city, Spokane needs to heal. And people are starting to realize this is more than just an affordable housing crisis. It’s all being fueled by drug addiction, mental illness, and broken relationships. If anyone tells you otherwise, don’t believe them.

So Where Did They Go?

Parts of downtown #Spokane are in big trouble. This past weekend, drug addicts and the homeless packed Division St & 3rd Ave, Brown & Pacific, State & Second Ave. All the locals say these are well known hot spots with multiple social service agencies nearby. Problem is, there are now several empty store fronts being used as drug dens.

I also spoke to at least a dozen homeless people who all say they passed through “Camp Hope.” The homeless are also retreating to wooded areas. Right now, this is a full blown fentanyl and meth crisis. Spokane PD was out in full force clearing the streets. I did not realize it was this bad! Now I know why so many residents in this city say they do not want to become the next #Seattle. This is just a quick preview of my next drop coming later this week.

Jonathan Choe

Journalist and Senior Fellow, Center on Wealth and Poverty
Jonathan Choe is a journalist and Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute's Center on Wealth and Poverty, covering homelessness issues for its Fix Homelessness initiative. Prior to joining Discovery, Choe spent several years as one of the lead reporters at KOMO-TV, consistently the top rated television station in Seattle. His in depth stories on crime and deep dive investigations into the homeless crisis led to measurable results in the community, including changes in public policy. Choe has more than two decades of experience in television news behind the scenes and in front of the camera for ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, and Tribune. He has also been nominated and honored with multiple industry awards including an Emmy. Choe spent several years teaching classes on emerging media and entrepreneurship to under privileged youth in inner city Chicago. As an independent journalist, Choe also contributes regularly to the Mill Creek View and Lynnwood Times and has reported on exclusive stories in the past year for Daily Wire and The Postmillennial.