Council Celebrates New Findings on Reduction in Homelessness for Youth

Lisa Gardner, City Council Communications Director, 509.625.6226

Friday, August 20, 2021 at 3:46 p.m.

Spokane has become the first community in Washington State to have a measurable reduction in active homelessness for any population and third in the nation to achieve this milestone for youth and young adults.  According to the Anchor Community Initiative’s (ACI) community update presentation, Spokane has sustained a reduction in the numbers of young people actively experiencing homelessness across the community, has reduced the number of young people experiencing unsheltered homelessness and has increased the housing placement rate for young people across the system. With the advent of the Centralized Diversion Fund (CDF), the Spokane ACI also housed an additional 76 young individuals/families between June 2020 and June 2021 who would have otherwise been living on the street or in a shelter.

“Eradicating homelessness will not happen today, tomorrow, or next year,” says Councilwoman Betsy Wilkerson.  “But as a City, we’re making momentum in this fight against homelessness—especially with housing our youth.  As part of the Council, I will always champion and support milestones like this because we need to celebrate each win, big or small.”

The Anchor Community Initiative is a project to prevent and end youth and young adult homelessness across Washington State. The ACI works with communities to improve data collection methods, advocate for legislative change, develop partnerships with systems and providers, and implement projects that improve access to services and lead to equitable outcomes for all young people.

The ACI report provided information that showed systemwide improvements such as working with the Youth Advisory Board and young people with lived experience as paid consultants, weekly case conferencing, the Youth By Name List, and a community of practice contributed to achieving goals. Partnerships between providers, including the newly launched Young Adult Shelter, played a major role in reducing the numbers of young adults sleeping unsheltered each night; 44 young adults sleeping unsheltered in September 2020 reduced to 18 young adults sleeping unsheltered in June 2021. Priorities for the upcoming year in the ACI include ending unsheltered youth and young adult homelessness, ending disproportionality in housing outcomes for QTBIPOC young people, implementing a community-wide Diversion-First approach, fully resourcing, and empowering the Youth Advisory Board in Spokane, and continuing to advocate for a Youth Coordinated Entry system with additional capacity for housing navigation.