Partners Establish Young Adult Shelter Plan, Funding

Brian Coddington, Communications Director, 509.625.6740

Saturday, January 9, 2021 at 11:23 a.m.

Nearly $3 million in state grant money is coming to the Spokane community to begin a phased approach to a regional solution that meets the unique needs of the young adult population and keeps their experience with homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring.

The three-year grant, secured jointly by the cities of Spokane and Spokane Valley and Spokane County, will eventually pay for operation of a specialized shelter with up to 44 beds specifically for adults between the ages of 18 and 24. Volunteers of America (VOA) will operate the young adult shelter, initially establishing a minimum of 15 beds in separate spaces designated for young adults beginning in April. Beds for women would be located at the new VOA campus beginning in April and VOA will work with other operators to subcontract additional capacity.

“This is a really positive step forward for the region and our ability to reach, impact, and redirect young adults from an extended homelessness experience,” Fawn Schott, CEO of the local VOA. “We appreciate the commitment of the regional partners to finding a long-term solution that emphasizes moving people out of homelessness.”

The grant comes from the state Department of Commerce, which extended the deadline to April 1 to establish bed space for young adults. The grant is for $2.7 million over three years and flows through the City of Spokane to be allocated on behalf of the regional partners to VOA for operation of the young adult shelter. The grant includes funding for some capital costs.

“Homelessness is a regional concern and requires a regional solution that reflects the best practice of establishing resources in different areas of the community that interrupt the cycle of poverty and homelessness,” Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward said. “What we are building for homeless young adults has the potential to grow into a regional model for every unhoused population.”

Acceptance of the grant funds must be approved by the Spokane City Council, which is expected to consider the request from the regional partners on Monday. The contract for VOA to operate the young adult shelter is also pending Spokane City Council approval later this month.

Over the next year or so, the plan would be to transition to a dedicated young adult location. VOA will also lead a search for a permanent location on behalf of regional partners that include the cities of Spokane and Spokane Valley and Spokane County. The regional young adult shelter need is for about four dozen spaces and the grant requires space for 30 percent of the capacity initially.

“This shelter plan is the result of partners throughout the County coming together, respecting each other’s priorities, and being willing to have open and honest dialogue about a difficult regional topic,” Spokane County Commissioner Mary Kuney said. “I am optimistic that when we find a permanent location, it will be one that we all agree on and does not place an undue burden on any area.”

Since late summer, the regional partners have discussed a few sites within the Spokane region for a permanent young adult shelter location, although none met all of the minimum requirements. The intention is to locate a permanent, dedicated young adult shelter close to public transportation and complementary services, including opportunities for continuing education and technical training. 

“We heard from the Continuum of Care that the young adult shelter is a high priority for our region and I am happy we were able to make this come together,” Spokane Valley Mayor Ben Wick said. “We have a real opportunity to help our youth and I am looking forward to continuing our regional conversations around a permanent location.”