The three-year grant will be used to open a 44-bed shelter for those between the ages of 18 and 24
Last month, Washington State’s Department of Commerce awarded the Spokane community a $2.7 million grant to open a homeless shelter for young adults.
Funding was initially announced last year, but the City of Spokane, Spokane Valley and Spokane County — who are partners in this project — were under threat of losing it after disagreements and zoning conflicts over the shelter’s possible location. Appointed officials were given until the end of 2020 to finalize a plan for use of funds for the shelter, but the Department of Commerce extended the decline to April 2021.
Homelessness is an issue that affects families, youth and adults. According to National Alliance to End Homelessness, as of 2019, there are nearly 600,000 homeless individuals across the country. Of them, nearly 16,000 reside in Washington, and over 1,300 in Spokane City and Spokane County.
According to 2017 data gathered by the City of Spokane, young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 make up 68% of Spokane County’s homeless youth and young adult population.
“Homelessness is a regional concern and requires a regional solution that reflects the best practice of establishing resources in different areas of the community that interrupt the cycle of poverty and homelessness,” City of Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward said in a press release. “What we are building for homeless young adults has the potential to grow into a regional model for every unhoused population.”
The three-year grant will be used to open a 44-bed shelter for young adults between the ages of 18 and 24.
Appointed officials will be partnering with Volunteers of America (VOA) to operate the shelter. Over the next year, the VOA will be scouting locations that meet all of the requirements agreed upon by the project’s regional partners, including proximity to public transportation.
“This shelter plan is the result of partners throughout the County coming together, respecting each other’s priorities, and being willing to have open and honest dialogue about a difficult regional topic,” Spokane County Commissioner Mary Kuney said. “I am optimistic that when we find a permanent location, it will be one that we all agree on and does not place an undue burden on any area.”
Aside from temporary housing, the shelter aims to provide occupants with other services, including opportunities for continued education and technical training.
“We heard from the Continuum of Care that the young adult shelter is a high priority for our region and I am happy we were able to make this come together,” Spokane Valley Mayor Ben Wick said. “We have a real opportunity to help our youth and I am looking forward to continuing our regional conversations around a permanent location.”
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