‘It’s not getting any better’: Spokane businesses near homeless shelters want change

SPOKANE, Wash.– The City of Spokane wants feedback about where to add a new homeless shelter.

City leaders have been searching for months and say people keep shooting down possible locations.

Business owners who are close to the homeless shelters that already exist said they know it’s hard to find more space, but they’re paying the price.

The owner of D.Lish Burgers, Mike Lish, said he’s concerned about the safety of his customers and employees. He’ already made changes because of the issue, like closing the restaurant at 8 p.m. every night. That’s something he doesn’t think will ever change.

“When you’ve been in the same place for years and then all of a sudden you have a problem, you start questioning what’s going on. And, it’s not getting any better. That’s the frustrating part,” Lish said.

He’s not alone in his frustrations.

The owners of North Bowl bowling alley, Sharlene and Mark Palos are dealing with similar issues.

“It’s either you choose whether to have your businesses flourish, or you have a place for these homeless people,” the Palos said. “They sleep on the side of the buildings and leave their bags of trash all over the place. Sometimes, there’s needles in there. We have a lot of little kids that come bowl at our center, so they see this stuff out there.”

The Palos want to see people get the help they need but don’t want small, family-owned businesses to suffer the expense. They have a shelter in their backyard and hope a new one doesn’t open as close to their businesses.

“What we’re doing now isn’t working. It just blows my mind. Let’s try that. Let’s try finding someplace,” the Palos said.

Finding that place has not been easy. These business owners said having homeless shelters near them hasn’t made things more simple.

These business owners did say the problems decreased a bit when The Way Out Shelter transitioned to a bridge housing program. When it was a low barrier, emergency shelter, things were much worse. Since the Salvation Army is focusing on housing people committed to exiting homelessness, the issues aren’t as bad. However, it’s the bleed over from the downtown core they’re still struggling to get a handle on.

These owners say they’re worried about more low-barrier space being added in the city.

The City of Spokane will accept feedback through March 24. You can share your thoughts and ideas here.

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