When Spokane unites behind a cause, the community get results.
This spirit of collaboration was on display in 2017 when, over the course of about three months, the City of Spokane and a coalition of nonprofits, agencies and community members, as well as the Police and Fire Departments, combined efforts and resources for the 100 Day Youth Challenge. This local effort was part of a larger national effort in combating youth and young adult homelessness.
The goal for the program was to house 100 youths and young adults over the course of the 100-day period. In the end, 109 young people experiencing homelessness found housing, mostly by working with local nonprofits to secure leases on apartments, despite perhaps not having the credit or rental history that's typically required, says Dawn Kinder, who was the division director for the City's Neighborhood and Business Services division at the time of the challenge.
More than 20 organizations partnered on this effort, which was originally a program of Home Away Washington, a nonprofit that focuses on youth homelessness in the state.
“Spokane has a naturally collaborative spirit,” says Kinder. “It showed that if we have the willingness and the resources, we can make an impact.”
With several City employees working nearly full-time on the program over the 100 days, the City and its partners hit the streets and made contact with nearly 600 young people between the ages of 13 and 24. This segment of the homeless population is particularly vulnerable not only because of their young age, but also because some federal housing guidelines favor those who’ve been homeless for a longer period of time.
In the end, Kinder says the 100 Days program allowed City staff to improve how they handle homelessness. She says it didn't just bring all these groups together, but the short timeline provided a sense of urgency and importance around this issue. It was also key for stakeholders to know that City leadership had their backs over the course of these 100 days.
“The Administration made a huge difference because the staff and nonprofits knew that leadership was bought in. That goes a long way,” says Kinder.