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Spokane Homeless Gather for "One-Stop Shopping"

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Tomorrow (Thursday) the city of Spokane will conduct its annual one-day census of homeless people. The idea is to get as accurate a count as possible of the people who live on Spokane’s streets.

In conjunction with that, Spokane’s Homeless Coalition yesterday (Tuesday) held what it calls its annual Homeless Connect at the Salvation Army campus near Gonzaga. It was essentially “one-stop shopping” for homeless people.

Kari Chapman from United Healthcare and the city’s Homeless Coalition says it’s a chance to bring some convenience to sometimes chaotic lives.

"The idea behind it is to make sure we have as many service providers in one building as possible so they can access as many services in one day as they possibly can,” Chapman said.

In the smaller of two gymnasiums, there were rows of tables representing government agencies and private companies catering to short and long-term needs. The most popular area was the corner where the veterinarian and his assistant were giving quick checkups and vaccinations to four-legged friends.

“There’s a lot of things that people don’t think about with regards to homelessness, like pets," she said. "Everybody has a dog out here and nobody’s caring for them and it’s really difficult to get services for them. So we brought in a veterinarian, brought in the Humane Society. We have a couple of other veterinary services with dog food and sweaters and boots and things like that. Foot care for animals that people don’t think about."

In the other gym, there was food, to eat there and to take away, clothes and a station where WSU nursing students were massaging and putting lotion on the feet of people like Daniel. He’s a diabetic and being on his feet so much causes him problems.

“This little break that I get, they clean my feet, they go underneath the nails and clean it. And you can see how she’s putting some lotion on it," he said. "Yeah, it’s very nice, very pleasant.”

Down the hall, people received medical attention from providers from the CHAS clinic. In another room were flu shots from Walgreens and mumps shots from United Healthcare.

Kari Chapman says this is the biggest Homeless Connect event held in Spokane; about 400 people were expected to take advantage of services.

“They love it, they absolutely love it," she said. "They can come in and see all of us and get all of their questions answered at one time and then get a bus pass to go home again.”

Volunteers were also gathering data about the people who attended to help the city get an updated snapshot of the city’s homeless.