After more than 35 years in downtown Spokane, the Crosswalk Youth Shelter is planning to move east.
Volunteers of America unveiled plans and launched a fundraising campaign this week in support of a new 45,000-square-foot shelter near Spokane Community College.
And while the location is new, the goal is the same – prevent homeless kids from becoming homeless adults.
With a projected opening in 2023, the new Crosswalk shelter will have double the capacity and an array of amenities not available in its current space on Second Avenue.
Along with all of the benefits of a new $15 million building, the new shelter is simply in a better location, according to Volunteers of America, the nonprofit that operates Crosswalk.
After more than two decades in the heart of the city, the shelter asked its guests where they’d like the new location to be, Volunteers of America spokesperson Rae-Lynn Barden said. The clear consensus was out of downtown, where kids feel less safe and have little room to breathe outside the shelter.
Planned for an empty lot at 3024 East Mission Avenue, the shelter will be easily accessible from Spokane Transit Authority’s upcoming City Line, which will provide rapid bus service between downtown and Spokane Community College.
The shelter, which serves people from 13 to 17 years old around the clock and 18 to 21 years old during the day, expects to be able to enroll kids in educational programs at Spokane Community College and elsewhere.
“Education and training is a resource to end the cycle of homelessness,” Barden said.
The new shelter isn’t expected to just be larger, it’s also carved up in a way that offers different spaces for different uses. For example, two of the floors will be dorm-style rooms for those attending Spokane Community College.
The current shelter is just a single room.
“They eat, breathe and sleep in the same place,” Barden said of its guests. “They would like a space of their own.”
The property is also across the corner from the former Spokane Clean Air building, which Volunteers of America is under contract to purchase. The nonprofit hopes to transition that building into use as its new young adult shelter, which would serve people between 18 and 24 years old.
By locating both shelters out of downtown, Volunteers of America hopes to provide young people with services that fit their unique needs and separate them from the chronic and older homeless populations who typically require different care.
CHAS also plans to build a health clinic on the same lot as the new Crosswalk shelter, ensuring kids there have adequate access to medical and dental care.
Volunteers of America hopes to break ground on the project next spring, assuming it can line up all of the funding necessary . The nonprofit is hoping to raise $2 million from community donors.
The new Crosswalk shelter comes on the heels of Volunteers of America’s construction of a new Hope House women’s shelter, which opened on Third Avenue earlier this year.
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