Dear Gonzaga,

We write with a sense of urgency. As you may know, the COVID-19 moratorium currently protects renters from eviction during hard times. 

In Washington alone, over 220,000 renters are behind on payments due to factors related to COVID-19, such as job loss and lack of child care. These individuals are disproportionately people of color. On June 30, the moratorium will end, putting Spokane on the verge of a crisis. 

In our city, roughly 2,500 evictions are projected to occur each month starting in July. Many of these evictions will happen in and around the Logan Neighborhood. Evictions are one of the leading causes of homelessness.

Already, we have people experiencing homelessness near GU and down by the  Spokane river. Through a student-led service group called Meals In The Margins, we’ve come to know some of them. 

There is Brandi: a fellow spaghetti-lover who has become like a second mom to our group, she always asks how we are doing and how our grades are. 

There is Taylor: a young man who is tattooed with the word “trust” on his arm--just like I, Michael, am. 

There is Tim: a gruff, middle-aged biker who has several striking rings on his fingers. He once told us that those rings are the only possessions he has kept since becoming homeless; everything else was either stolen on the streets, or thrown away by the city or the police. 

Tim’s experience is not unique: every 6 months, Police conduct routine ‘sweeps’ which force individuals to lose all of their unattended things and essentially start over. 

GU, we are a Jesuit university called to act on “a mature commitment to dignity of the human person” and “solidarity with the poor and vulnerable.” This summer, our homeless population will skyrocket after the moratorium ends. We have a duty 

to act.

 Zags, we are calling on you to get involved. One way is through joining the movement ‘Humanizing Spokane’

(@humanizingspokane, humanizingspokane.com), led by 19 concerned GU students. We aim to humanize people experiencing homelessness and push for long-term policy solutions. We released a documentary on Wednesday and are leading a “Humans for Housing” march on April 24. GU, we need you to show up: for our community, for our Logan Neighborhood and for our City of Spokane. 

Consider this Bible verse from the book of James: “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothing or food. If one of you says, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed’, but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead (James 2:15-17).” Compassion is calling: will you pick up the phone, or let it ring? 

Sincerely,

Michael Larson, Paulina Thurmann and the Humanizing Spokane Team

 

Michael Larson is a senior studying sociology. Paulina Thurmann is a senior studying sociology.

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