Jeff Humphrey

Bridge Housing Opens Opportunities

Jeff Humphrey, Media Manager, 509.625.6308

Friday, March 11, 2022 at 11:43 a.m.

Spokane’s new Bridge Housing Program is helping people who are ready to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

Former homeless people, like John Capps.

“I used to put a tarp, hang the tarp off of here and hang it down, just to keep the weather off of me,” John said while giving a tour of his former campsite on First Avenue.

Instead, John now has a roof over his head. Inside The Way Out Center on Mission Avenue, up to 60 people are transitioning from night-by-night shelters to a place that offers them a way to get out of homelessness. That transition frees up emergency shelter space for the next person to take another step in their journey out of homelessness.

In addition to on-site access to mental health and rehab counselors, The Way Out Center provides healthy food, access to computers and a laundry.

Because John’s shown a lot of progress, he’s been promoted from the shelter’s communal living area to a semi-private cubical.

“Being in a room with just one other person to deal with, that’s working for me,” John said. “Rather than being in a big, giant room with a bunch of people. It’s easier for me to deal with and easier for me to get up and go to work.”

John works the graveyard shift stocking shelves at a local grocery store, but what John really wants to do is learn how to weld.

“I’ve done tattooing for years. That’s why I figure maybe I should try welding, because I have a nice, steady hand,” explained John.

Recently, welder Scott Shumake offered John his first shot at what could be a life-changing career. The pair met at Scott’s welding studio on Trent Avenue.

“I come from an unfortunate background myself and I have an interesting perspective on addiction in of itself,” Scott said. “And, I like the idea of giving someone a hand up.”

When Scott is not mentoring, he fabricates unique, metal fire pits.

“Ya know what a lot of people notice right off the bat when they’re checking out these fire pits is, that they’re elevated off the ground. And, it spins,” Scott said of his pits that he considers kinetic art.

On this particular day, Scott and John are making a scaled-down version of the fire pit, but initially John finds welding way harder than it looks.

“I was a little nervous, ya know, the arc and the sparks shooting back at me,” conceded John.

But, with a little positive reinforcement, John literally got to draw a bead on his future.

“It means the world to me actually. I’m super excited actually. I can’t wait to start school,” John said. “It’s working really good. I mean I just got to make this piece right here.”

But John’s creation is more than just welded rebar. The tetrahedron that now sits on John’s nightstand is a reminder of his commitment to sobriety and a better life.

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