Jeff Humphrey

Helping People Find the “Way Out”

Jeff Humphrey, Media Manager, 509.625.6308

Tuesday, June 29, 2021 at 8:41 a.m.

The Way Out Shelter opened its doors last August to give guests a calm, supportive, safe place to get their life back on track.

Since that time, 64 people, who once called The Way Out home, found jobs and/or housing.

“The Way Out Shelter definitely gives you hope. And that’s probably the biggest thing. The compassion, the hope. It will turn your life around if you have a place like that to go,” said Jerry Lord, a new tenant at the Ridpath Club Apartments.

The Way Out Shelter, with funding from the City of Spokane, is operated by the Salvation Army.

“And we’ve had some great success stories of people coming through the doors and getting a job and moving off into regular housing,” said Major Ken Perine of the Salvation Army.

Now, The Way Out Shelter is hoping for a lot more success stories. The Salvation Army is standing up a new Bridge Housing Program at the Mission Avenue Facility.

“So at the end of the COVID shelter time, we’re going to move this shelter into what we call a Phase 2 and 3 shelter. It’s a transitional shelter. It’s for folks who are off the street. We’ll do an interview process with them to make sure they’re ready to move forward and then, they’ll move into here and it’s a stepped program” explained Perine.

The Bridge Housing Program addresses the issues that caused a person to become homeless in the first place.

“They come in here, if they need a drug and alcohol program, we’ll send them to that. Or, if they just need job training we’ll help them get that. And, as they they start to get back on their feet, they’ll move from an open bed concept to their own room. And as we help them save money, as they get jobs, and then, get them back into the community,” Perine said.

However, creating a new space for Bridge Housing candidates means remodeling the shelter’s interior and now, The Way Out staff is finding new accommodations for the people who are still living here.

Shelter manager Gerriann Armstrong is referring a young man named Nathan to his new digs at the Union Gospel Mission.

“Our goals are the same goals. We want to see people become productive members of society. Anyone we can work with to accomplish that, our doors are wide open,” pledged Phil Altmeyer of the Union Gospel Mission.

To make sure guests transition to their new shelter successfully, the Salvation Army created a special case worker program to help existing guests adjust to their new environment.

“A lot of times, when people move from place to place, they lose momentum, and so the opportunity to retain the staff and not having to start build relationships all over again is just brilliant,” added Armstrong.

The Way Out Shelter is not waiting for a June 30 deadline to place their guests. Many of them will be shuttled to their new space a week ahead of schedule.

Beginning in July, remodeling of The Way Out’s main floor will create 60 Bridge Housing beds upstairs. Plans call for finishing off the building’s basement for a 40 bed emergency shelter.

It’s a lot of moving parts, but a sign Spokane is trying new ways to resolve an old problem.

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