North Notes
Spokane-North Rotary Club Bulletin
August 8, 2022
            Aug. 15: Noon. Lunch at the Bark. Topic: TBA.
            Aug. 22: Noon.  At Holmes Elementary.  Speaker: Holmes Principal Kale Colyar. After lunch, members and spouses help stow supply room for the year.  Sign up with Sandy Fink for the luncheon.
            Aug.  29: Noon. Lunch at the Bark. Speakers: Ben Stuckart and Gavin Cooley.
Holler for a Dollar:
            John Mailliard talked about sudden one-inch rains which flooded extremely arid Death Valley areas.
Happy Buck$:
            Bill Simer was happy to quickly recover from a mild Covid case.
            Steve Bergman added $2 for a wedding party at St. Ignatius, Mont., for Colin and Kelsey Prestesater.
            Michelle Fossum was happy for a family gathering at South Padre Island, Texas, and other nearby venues at space facilities, where Terry’s brother-in-law worked and served on the space shuttle.
            Eric Johnson was happy that his daughter has earned a volleyball scholarship at Western Washington University.
Seeking answers to a difficult issue   
            If there is one word to raise a hot-topic issue it would be “homelessness.”
            Local media have had a daily barrage of stories on “Camp Hope” in East Spokane and other smaller tent city venues in the area.
            One thing most area residents agree about the homeless issues is: they are complicated.
            At the Aug. 8 club luncheon board member Bill Simer showed a video to help focus discussion, understanding, and, hopefully, some answers about homelessness.
            Bill showed the video – “Housing and Help” -- from Gavin Cooley, who from 2003 to 2020 served as a top finance and investment manager for the City of Spokane.
            Cooley worked to find financial solutions during six mayors, including three Republicans and three Democrats.
            On Aug. 29, Gavin and Ben Stuckart will visit the club luncheon to continue the discussion.  Stuckart, Spokane City Council president from 2012 to 2019, now is board chair for Continuum of Care, an agency hip deep in homeless issues.
            Gavin’s video featured a discussion with Edward Byrnes, a social work educator, who talked how Spokane lost so many good middle-class jobs when Kaiser Aluminum Mead and other production positions were eliminated.
            Byrnes said that changed the character of neighborhoods and a comfortable life-style that left with the jobs.
            So the much smaller number of homeless, often camping along the trains, were just sent out on the rail cars.  But now, he said, those train rides have left, leaving tents and old RVs to forage under bridges or on open land.
            Cooley said Spokane’s “astronomical housing” 72 percent gains in the past three years have eliminated home-buying for many and out of reach for many apartment dwellers.
            “It used to be an affordable housing market,” Cooley said.  Now average prices have risen from $250,000 to $430,000, he said, adding “average wages have only increased 14 percent.”
            That is part of the homelessness issue, where, for example, Camp Hope has grown from 150 a day to 500 or more.
            Cooley visited Houston, the fourth largest city in the country, to learn how that city works on homeless issues, cutting its total by 65 percent.
            On the video, Cooley and Byrnes agreed that finding some solutions to homelessness in Spokane is doable.
            “It’s still on a scale that we can do something,” Byrnes said.
             Cooley said: “The time is right, but we need to work together.  We all need to get under the same tent.”
            “You want to think there is a silver bullet, but it’s not just one thing to do, and how we got here.”
            The questions arise from issues of poverty, drug use, mental health, lack of opportunity and many others.
            The “tent” will need to be big.  Discussion about the size and scale of the problems will continue Aug. 29.
Bulletin editors: Chuck Rehberg and Sandy Fink