Last Friday, December 20th, Spokane residents gathered to remember homeless individuals who had passed away during 2013. CHAS hosts the memorial ceremony each year to bring attention to the tragedy of homelessness and to remember our homeless friends who lost their lives. The event is part of a national memorial organized by the National Coalition for the Homeless and is traditionally held on or near December 21st, the Winter Solstice – the official start of winter.
Speakers included CHAS COO, Aaron Wilson, CHAS Deputy Medical Director Bill Bomberger, PA-C, House of Charity’s Kari Chapman, and City’s Gate’s Pastor John.
Stories and statistics were shared including:
- On a single night in January 2013, there were 610,042 people experiencing homelessness in the United States.
- Of those, 65% were living in emergency shelters or transitional housing and 35% were living in unsheltered locations.
- Last year, Washington was the third most successful state in reducing homelessness, with a reduction of 2,744 homeless people.
- But, homelessness continues to be a problem in the Spokane area.
- Last year, CHAS saw an 8% increase in homelessness amongst patients.
- 13% of CHAS’ patients without a home are children.
Remembered at the memorial were 39 men and women. Each person’s name was read and a bell rang in their honor.
Looking back gives perspective on the daily struggles that live amongst us and that there is still much work to be done. Looking forward gives us hope that tomorrow can be better and that by working together we can help end homelessness.
The Homeless Outreach team at CHAS is fortunate to work with many non-profit organizations and community resources who assist those without a home, including, amongst others, House of Charity and City Gate.
Kelley Charvet is the Communications Manager at Community Health Association of Spokane