Dawn Kinder, CHHS Director
Earlier this month, City of Spokane officials including Mayor Condon and Council President Stuckart headed on a homeless learning tour. The tour included stops in Portland, Salt Lake City and Boise. The goals for this tour included;
The first stop of the trip was Portland, Oregon. Last June, the Office of Homelessness which oversees all homeless services and funds for the city and Multnomah County was officially formed. The city and county each contribute over $20 million to the Joint Office of Homelessness. We also visited Outside In an organization helping Portland’s homeless youth. Their services go above and beyond, offering K-12 classes, GED classes, college preparatory and real life work experience. In fact, Outside In runs a dog daycare, Virginia Woof giving homeless youth hands on work experience.
In Salt Lake City, Utah we learned about the strong relationship between law enforcement and homeless shelters. The Police Department is involved in a diversion program for voluntary substance use treatment, the Community Connection Center, and Crisis Intervention Team. While in Salt Lake we visited Palmer Court a supportive housing development. They have 201 units serving men, women and families. Sixty of these units are reserved as week or month units. Palmer Court offers on site case management, workforce, benefits, therapist, and more.
The last stop on our tour was Boise, Idaho. The city does not provide funding to the shelter system but has a strong law enforcement outreach team. We visited the Interfaith Sanctuary Shelter which provides services for men, women, and families. This shelter can sleep up to 165 people a night! Interfaith Sanctuary Shelter even utilizes client scan cards for data tracking. The shelter relies heavily on volunteers.
After touring these three cities we discussed some areas the City of Spokane would like to focus on. These areas include creating a youth system, holding a homeless forum with downtown stakeholders, focusing more on project performance and systemic planning, and revising the request for proposal, RFP process and cycle.
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