SPOKANE, Wash. — The Spokane area was awarded a $2.7 million grant from the state Department of Commerce to open up a homeless shelter specifically for young adults, according to City of Spokane Communications Director Brian Coddington.
Spokane, Spokane Valley and Spokane County were originally at risk of losing the grant if appointed leaders didn't come up with a plan for the money before the end of 2020. However, the state Department of Commerce extended the deadline to April 1 for leaders to establish bed space for young adults.
The grant will eventually pay for a specialized shelter for adults between 18 and 24 years old. Volunteers of America (VOA) will operate the shelter, Coddington said.
The City of Spokane will allocate the grant money on behalf of regional partners to the VOA for operation of the shelter.
There will be a minimum of 15 beds in separate spaces designated for young adults beginning in April. Beds for women would be located at the new VOA campus beginning in April, and the VOA will subcontract with other operators to open additional capacity.
Over the next year the plan would be to transition to a dedicated young adult shelter location, Coddington said. VOA will lead the search for the permanent location on behalf of Spokane, Spokane Valley and Spokane County. The regional shelter will need about four dozen spaces, with thirty percent of the capacity available when the shelter opens.
Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward previously said she was concerned about the dense concentration of homeless services in Spokane's downtown core and would prefer the new shelter be built elsewhere.
She also noted that homelessness is a regional issue.
“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,” Spokane Mayor Woodward said. “What we are building for homeless young adults has the potential to grow into a regional model for every unhoused population.”
Regional partners have considered a few sites within the Spokane region for the permanent shelter location, although none met all the minimum requirements. The intention is to locate the shelter close to public transportation and other services like continuing education opportunities and technical training, Coddington said.
“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.”
The Spokane City Council must accept the grant funds, and is set to consider the request from the regional partners on Monday. The contract for the VOA to operate the shelter is also pending Spokane City Council approval, Coddington said.