What is effective compassion?

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"The federal government's policy shift in 2013 to prioritizing housing first as a one-size-fits-all approach has not worked to reduce homelessness for all populations and communities... Despite significant increases in funding and beds, overall homelessness has been increasing in the United States." 
Interagency Council on Homelessness, October 2020


Homelessness and addiction are the visible portions of an iceberg that goes much, much deeper—childhood trauma, mental illness, felonies, broken families, educational deficiencies, domestic violence... People are suffering and we want to make the suffering go away, but if we don’t correctly understand the issues, our efforts will be misguided.


We invite you to join us on this journey to end homelessness—one person, one family, at a time.


We’ve assembled the following resources as a starting place. As you read or watch, ask yourself:

  • What do I believe about people experiencing homelessness?
  • What does God say about the poor?
  • What role do relationships play in the problem? In the solution?
  • How do I see myself making a difference?

Learning from Experience

More money and building have not significantly reduced homelessness in Spokane or elsewhere.



Spokane Point-in-Time Count


The graph below shows that the number of people in Spokane who are experiencing homelessness has not changed significantly since the 10-year plan to end homelessness began in 2005.



Lessons from Other Cities

Homelessness continues to rise nationwide, primarily in California

Seattle Under Siege – “The Seattle metro area spends more than $1 billion fighting homelessness every year. That’s nearly $100,000 for every homeless man, woman, and child in King County, yet the crisis seems only to have deepened.”

Seattle highway workers struggle to keep ahead of trash cleanup from homeless camps.

“Public and private challenge” leads to situation where housing King County bought as shelter sits vacant.

New homelessness approach in Olympia shows some promising results.

Tent City USA – a KGW8 investigation into the increase in tent camping in Portland.

San Francisco has spent millions on solving the homeless crisis, but it only seems to be getting worse.

Resources on Homelessness

The opinions expressed on sites linked here aren’t necessarily those of UGM, but we believe in the value of respectful dialog from multiple perspectives. We hope this compilation of resources is helpful as you think carefully and strategically about your response to homelessness.




Updates on homelessness from the UGM Impact Blog

The #1 Principle in Helping the Poor from the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics

The Chalmers Center provides research into effective approaches to poverty

Every person experiencing homelessness has a story. Here is Kevin’s.  

How to understand Spokane’s Point-in-Time Count




Trump administration “homelessness czar” may move away from Housing First

Federally funded Spokane Housing Authority is working through a 3-year, 2,000-person backlog for rental assistance

Spokane changes how it gathers data on reasons for homelessness

Browne underpass attracts campers, trash, even though shelter space is available




When Helping Hurts: Free video series from Chalmers Center

Poverty, Inc.: Internationally acclaimed documentary challenging our assumptions on poverty relief

Mia Birdsong: Empower the poor by acknowledging their skills and capabilities.

Seattle is Dying: “What is happening in King County and on the streets of Seattle isn’t about dollars. It’s about human lives.”

The World Homeless Day Summit offered community members and experts in the Inland Northwest a chance to gather and discuss solutions to issues surrounding homelessness and addiction. Click below to view the different speakers:
Dr. Mark Baird, PsyD., Whitworth University
Joe Ader, Family Promise
Rev. John Repsold, Mosaic Church
Phil Altmeyer, Union Gospel Mission
Tyson West, Adult & Teen Challenge
Ed and Gail Stevenson, Life Recovery Solutions




Homelessness 101: UGM’s free e-guide

Love Your Neighbor: Restoring Dignity, Breaking the Cycle of Poverty by Kathryn Feliciano

Toxic Charity by Robert Lupton

When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert

UGM’s approach

Real People.


Real Change.


Yes, I want to get involved!

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