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William H. Gates Sr. listens to state Sen. Lisa Brown during a press conference at the downtown Spokane Public Library. Among the announcements:  the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, of which Gates Sr. is co-chairman, will give $4 million to assist Washington legal aid services, libraries and community foundations. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
William H. Gates Sr. listens to state Sen. Lisa Brown during a press conference at the downtown Spokane Public Library. Among the announcements: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, of which Gates Sr. is co-chairman, will give $4 million to assist Washington legal aid services, libraries and community foundations. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Grants offer relief to poor in region

Feds, Gates Foundation boost legal services, rental assistance

The region’s impoverished received help Thursday from public and private sources to ease the effects of the economic downturn.

Spokane County received a $622,278 federal grant to help people on the brink of homelessness. The Housing and Urban Development grant, which was made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, targets residents of smaller towns and unincorporated areas of Spokane County and will be used for rental or utilities assistance for people in immediate danger of becoming homeless.

Also on Thursday, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced it is giving $4 million in grants to legal aid services, libraries and community foundations across Washington to help people most affected by the recession.

“We understand the changes of a prolonged recession and cannot simply wait for conditions to improve,” said Gates Foundation co-chairman William H. Gates Sr., who announced the gift at the downtown Spokane Public Library.

The bulk of the contribution, $3 million over three years, will go to the Legal Aid for Washington Fund to ensure low-income people have access to civil legal assistance at 26 nonprofit law centers.

Ten community foundations will receive $672,000, including the Inland Northwest Community Foundation, which will receive $150,000 to assist families in northeast Washington.

In addition, $400,000 will help 17 public libraries across the state, including the Spokane Public Library, connect people affected by the recession to jobs and services.



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