Spokane's innovative, collective, impact-driven panhandling solution.
In order to address the issue of panhandling in Downtown Spokane in a positive way, we endeavor to begin the Hope Works Spokane program. This program will:
We intend to build the Hope Works Spokane program with a unique collaboration between the City of Spokane, the Downtown Spokane Partnership, Goodwill, and Catholic Charities. Partnering together; we desire to raise $161,645 to cover staff, volunteer management, administration, insurance, and volunteer compensation for an eighteen-month pilot period. A van has been donated to this project from the Spokane Transit Authority. The van will have a highly visible wrap that announces and advertises the program to the entire community.
Two drivers begin by seeking people who are actively panhandling throughout the downtown core. The drivers, experienced with outreach and case management, interact with and ask the individuals if they would like to volunteer for the day and receive a stipend in exchange. If they say yes, they join the van. If they say no, they are given a resource card and encouraged to stop by local agencies for additional assistance. An attempt to gather information regarding why they are choosing not to work will be made.
Once the van is full (we have limited it to 6 people for health, safety and budgetary reasons), individuals are transported to designated worksites that are chosen by the City’s Parks and Recreation, Streets or Solid Waste departments. Volunteers are provided with a sack lunch, water, and snacks while they are working. After the volunteer shift ends, individuals are transported to Goodwill where they receive a gift card or other stipend at the end of the day. Individuals are also provided with additional information about how to access employment services, treatment, emergency food/shelter, and subsidized housing. All interactions are documented in order for data to be accumulated to track the success of the program.
We believe we can reduce the amount of panhandling in the downtown core as well as provide more ways to interact with and connect with the panhandling population. Providing an option for work will allow our future clients to begin the process of stabilizing their lives by slowly regaining confidence in their ability to be a part of the workforce and better their own lives.
We also believe that in the process, the high visibility and potential for success will assist us in educating the community about the need to re-focus their compassion and generosity away from donating to panhandling and towards projects, programs, and agencies that help this population and our homeless population in general, stabilize their lives for the long term.
"Hope Works Spokane" can also be an effective tool in helping the public to understand the realities of homelessness and poverty in our city. Better understanding leads to greater opportunities for our citizens to become involved in serving those in need in a more meaningful way.