SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane's only emergency shelter for homeless families will have to turn away dozens of guests starting next month.
The Open Doors Emergency Shelter in the Perry District is experiencing a budget deficit after city funding to their organization was cut, according to shelter leaders.
Family Promise of Spokane runs the emergency shelter. It aims to keep families together, where in other facilities, family members are separated based on age and gender.
Executive Director Joe Ader said in the city's five-year budget plan the shelter's funding is reduced by $280,000 each year. As a result, a third of the staff will be laid off which is a total of five employees. And the number of guests they can take in will be reduced by 50.
"They get the support they need not just for a shelter, not for a place to stay, but really a place they can launch off. We slept 75 last night. Where are the other 45 going to go? Where are those kids going to go when we have to reduce capacity? If we have to turn people away, we are turning away to a car or to the street," Ader said.
Open Doors opened two years ago. Ader said the operational costs were paid for through city grant money. He explained, in that time, they experienced a high demand for shelter space and the organization has not had time to find other funding sources to cover the costs to staff the shelter.
A city spokesperson confirmed Family Promise is one of a few organizations that received less funding for the next budget cycle. In the previous cycle, Family Promise received the largest annual allocation, according to the city spokesperson. Twenty one of the 25 homeless service projects from the previous budget cycle were funded at or above the level from the last cycle in the next cycle.
According to the city, the overall budget for homeless services has not been reduced.
"There were $70 million in request, and $30 million to award. The Board made strategic funding decisions to maintain support for emergency shelters as well as outreach, diversion, transitional housing, and permanent housing programs," a city spokesperson said.
Another concern for Family Promise is the timing. Ader said when school is out for the summer, there are more families experiencing homelessness. There have also been four babies born to families living in the shelter in the last two weeks.
Staff members have met with the current residents. One mother said she is not sure if she will have to be out next month. She said she hopes they will be able to stay since her and her husband help in the kitchen.
"We didn't create it to turn people away. We created it so we can accommodate need within our county and really help people get on their feet. We may not agree on a lot but we can agree that there shouldn't be homeless children," Ader said
The shelter plans to expand their services in a new location. They bought and renovated the old Cassano's Deli building on Mission Avenue. Open Doors will move to the new location next month, but they will not be able to serve as many people.
Wednesday, Ader and leaders from other homeless service providers met with state leaders. Governor Jay Inslee's wife Trudi, Representative Marcus Riccelli and Senator Any Billig were in attendance, according to Ader.
At this time, Ader and his team are looking to the community for help. They encourage people to donate here.