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On brink of closure, Hope House receives funding to stay open

UPDATED: Mon., Jan. 10, 2022

The new Hope House women’s shelter features Nichiha panels which looks like wood but is actually a high-performance fiber cement seen on Wednesday, April 14, 2021, at Spokane, Wash.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
The new Hope House women’s shelter features Nichiha panels which looks like wood but is actually a high-performance fiber cement seen on Wednesday, April 14, 2021, at Spokane, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

The city of Spokane will provide emergency financial assistance to keep the Hope House women’s shelter open.

The shelter’s operator, Volunteers of America, warned late last year that it would be forced to close the crucial shelter amid a budget shortfall in 2022.

The Spokane City Council voted unanimously Monday to allocate $322,000 to the shelter, which is the only emergency shelter in Spokane that exclusively serves adult women regardless of whether they meet certain standards, such as sobriety.

In addition to a Spokane County grant to cover the fiscal year’s operational funding, the city dollars are enough to keep the shelter open until June 30, according to Volunteers of America spokesperson Rae-Lynn Barden.

The shelter’s closure would further strain the citywide network of homeless shelters. Already, beds for adult women are hard to come by, according to city officials.

The shelter has warned of financial shortfalls despite opening a new building on Third Avenue last year, which roughly doubled its emergency shelter capacity and included several apartments.

Eric Finch, the interim director of Neighborhood, Housing and Human Services, explained to the City Council on Monday that the city’s five-year funding plan for shelters did not factor in inflation and other potential added costs.

“What we have here is a gap in operational funding for several of our shelters,” Finch said, adding that Hope House is the first the city has been able to address.

The city switched to a five-year funding cycle for shelters in 2019 in an effort to provide them stability.

The funding approved on Monday was allocated from previously unspent homeless funding made available through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act adopted by Congress in 2020.

The same pot of money is being used to fund the city’s co-ed emergency homeless shelter on Cannon Street.

Finch acknowledged that the city has to determine a long-term funding plan for both shelters after June.

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