The Spokane County Commission voted this week to give $50,000 to help the House of Charity provide round-the-clock homeless services amid a major budget shortfall.
Catholic Charities, which runs the House of Charity, announced in April that the downtown Spokane homeless shelter faced a deficit of nearly $600,000 and may have to close its doors during daytime hours, leaving many homeless people with few viable places to stay.
“Homeless housing is important in our community,” Commissioner Shelly O’Quinn said after the board approved the funds on Tuesday.
Previously open 24/7, the House of Charity in January began closing its doors at noon and reopening at 6:30 p.m. for men seeking a shelter bed. Further reductions could push more homeless people into the downtown core during business hours – a situation that city officials, police, service providers and business owners hope to prevent.
The House of Charity, which operates on an annual budget of about $1.5 million, has run at a deficit for several years, but the Catholic Charities board decided it was no longer willing to continue funding it at a loss without a sustainable plan in place. The organization has cited dramatic fluctuations in public funding and an increasing focus on long-term housing for the poor.
The City Council in May pledged $200,000 to close the funding gap for this year, and officials have said they are pursuing plans for a more robust shelter network in Spokane starting in 2017. The Downtown Spokane Partnership also pledged $50,000.
The county’s contribution came from a portion of sales tax revenue dedicated to mental health initiatives. Documents say the $50,000 will enable the House of Charity to stay open seven days a week through Dec. 31, provide breakfast and lunch for 300 people and sleeping accommodations for 109 men.
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