Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Homeless youth who died included four 17-year-olds

Community leaders clarified statistics released earlier this week indicating six homeless children had died in the Spokane area this year, now saying the youngest victims were in their late teens.

About 30 homeless people have died this year, said Katie Kolbet, spokeswoman for the Community Health Association of Spokane.

At least four were 17 and two others were between 18 and 20, said Sheila Morley of the city’s Housing and Human Services Department. Half of them reportedly died of drug overdoses.

No teenagers from Crosswalk, the teen shelter operated through Volunteers of America, died this year, director Marilee Roloff said.

It’s unclear how some homeless advocates came to believe that six children were among this year’s victims, but Roloff speculated that the figures may have become distorted as they were passed from group to group.

“This is part of the problem,” Roloff said. “Homeless people? Who knows? It’s a pretty hard number to get your hands around.”

Crosswalk will never turn away homeless teenagers looking for a bed, Roloff said. If all beds are filled, the facility will make cots available.