Jeff Humphrey, Media Manager, 509.622.5868
Friday, June 4, 2021 at 2:45 p.m.
Spokane’s mayor is making significant changes in the ways we resolve the region’s homeless problem.
“So we have accomplished a lot over the past year as we fundamentally shift how we transition people out of homelessness,” said Nadine Woodward.
On June 3, the mayor announced a new, more collaborative regional focus on the types of resources that can help an individual take control of their path out of homelessness.
“Identifying those who are ready to take those steps and connecting them to intensive, short-term wrap around services,” Woodward said of one of her new initiatives.
The Salvation Army will offer those life-changing services through a new, referral-based, resource-intensive, Bridge Housing program at the Way Out Shelter on Mission Avenue later this fall.
“By coming to us, we’re going to interview them, get a chance to talk to them and make sure this is the path they want to take and then, we are going to help move mountains for them. Get them into substance abuse prevention, we’re going to help them the training they need so they can get a job. Teaching them how to just be consistent in their daily life,” explained Major Ken Perrine of the Salvation Army.
In another advancement, the City-owned Cannon Shelter will operate year-round following a public proposal process, providing both guests and staff more stability.
“Not only are we creating relationships with these individuals, we’re guiding them to the right place. We’re nurturing them while they are navigating the systems that are afforded them, to get into a better situation,” said Mike Shaw, CEO of the Guardians Foundation and current operator of the Cannon Shelter.
Just last month, Volunteers of America created more safe space for dozens of women at it’s new Hope House location on Third Avenue.
The regional collaborative also secured funding for a new young adult shelter, ages 18 to 24, an identified system need. That shelter is temporarily operating at the Women’s Hearth with the goal of moving out of downtown and close to vocational training at Spokane Community College.
“Early intervention means a new life for the individual and reduces the long term stress on our regional system. VOA wants to be part of a regional solution that addresses and resolves homelessness and we’re here for the long haul,” pledged Fawn Schott, president and CEO of Volunteers of America.
That regional approach could be a game changer. Both Spokane County and the City of Spokane Valley contribute time and money toward shelter solutions.
“These investments were made to meet immediate needs. They were also a chance to better prepare our region to transition people out of homelessness, even beyond the pandemic needs,” said Spokane County Commissioner Mary Kuney.
Woodward also announced her plans to improve the environment of the downtown area in the hopes of accelerating economic recovery there. The mayor is immediately expanding the efforts of litter crews and hopes to better control the sources of waste and graffiti.
The City is also piloting an alleyway activation partnership with Downtown Spokane Partnership and Spokane Arts to encourage positive activities.
Public restrooms closed by the pandemic are reopening and greater focus will be given to awareness of shelter hours.