Coverage criticism leads to new conversation about homelessness - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Coverage criticism leads to new conversation about homelessness in Spokane

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

This story originated as a post to KHQ, from a viewer, upset about this homeless camp below Kendall Yards. After the initial report on Facebook, I got a lot of comments -  many people were offended about how i described the camp. One person who was very vocal, was Ellie. I asked if she would meet with me - and she said yes.

As upset as she is with our coverage - she welcomed the chance to make others understand that this is a conversation Spokane needs to have.

“I feel like this is something that has been coming along for a while in this way I wasn't expecting it but at the same time it's definitely something coming for a while,” said Ellie.

Her criticism hits home, precisely because she doesn't have a home of her own. Ellie has been on the streets since she was 18.

“I was not street smart at all by any means,” said Ellie.

She has the scars from several scraps to show for it. She told me she's pregnant, has been fighting mental health issues -- and her dependency on alcohol and drugs.

“I'm 14 weeks pregnant, so you know I use medical marijuana for anti-nausea. It helps me to be able to relax a little bit,” Ellie told me.  

They're experiences she says have made her tougher - and wiser. 

“It's one of those things, you know, it's really hard to understand what people are actually going through and what actually goes on out here,” said Ellie.

Ellie says she's aware the river camp is illegal, but still prefers staying with her street family rather than risk sleeping next to strangers in a shelter. 

“I don't know what to expect, I'm scared too,” she told me.

Ellie hopes that what happens from this ground swell is more understanding by us, the city and the community; to do better for people who don't have a home.

“When you're sleeping under Monroe Bridge or in a park, you don't know in the middle of the night if there’s going to be a cop coming up to you saying, 'hey skedaddle,'' Ellie said. "There’s a lot of people that don't realize that may be the only place to stay that night.”

If you would like to help solve the homeless problem in Spokane - there are more than three-dozen local groups that could use your assistance. Check out "resources for homelessness" by clicking here.

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