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What if we've been approaching the issues of poverty and homelessness all wrong? What if our solutions aren't working because we've misdiagnosed the problem? What if our "hand-out" approach is demeaning and de-valuing the poor?


We’ve assembled the following resources to help you wrestle with those questions and consider how we can best offer a pathway out of homelessness through relationship and opportunities for meaningful work.

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


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 is Dying – “What is happening in King County and on the streets of Seattle isn’t about dollars. It’s about human lives. How could this be the right thing to do? How could watching human beings live and die in filth and degradation and madness be right?”

Shortage of affordable housing

November 2015 – Seattle declared a state of emergency because of the homeless situation, allocating $5 million for homeless intervention.

September 2018 – Seattle spent $86.7 million on homelessness in the first nine months of 2018, including $4.3 million to build and maintain tiny house villages.


“Portland’s homeless situation, while it is dire…I’m not making any excuses, it is dire. The reality is our homeless situation is not as severe as it is in Seattle, San Francisco, LA or other cities up and down the West Coast. … We don’t believe camping in a tent is a humane alternative to living in a warm, dry place with access to water, access to showers, access to laundry and access to social services that can actually help people get out of homelessness.” – Mayor Ted Wheeler, Portland

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

San Francisco

San Francisco is a city of great culture, diversity and wealth. They have spent millions on solving the homeless crisis, but it only seems to be getting worse.

Convention Pulls out of San Francisco, Citing Unsafe Streets

Resources on Poverty

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.



When Helping Hurts

Research by the Chalmers Center finds that alleviating poverty involves much more than feeding and sheltering people. We often misdiagnose the problem or treat the symptoms instead of the underlying problem, and our help can actually be harmful.

Chalmers Center approach to poverty

When Helping Hurts free video series



The Story We Tell about Poverty Isn’t True

In this Ted Talk, Mia Birdsong says to end poverty, we must start with empowering the poor by acknowledging their skills and capabilities.



Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

The IFWE is a Christian group dedicated to understanding the relationship between faith and work. Many of their blog posts are thoughtful reflections on fighting poverty as a lack of social capital rather than material assets.

Made in God’s Image

We All Have Gifts

Why Relationships are Key to Helping the Poor



Poverty, Inc.

This documentary argues that the traditional approach to aid is a model of paternalism – rich countries looking down upon and “rescuing” developing countries – and has done more damage than good in many cases. The same concepts apply to domestic poverty.




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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