The Spokane County commissioners are giving an Inland Northwest nonprofit $20,000 to help homeless people return to their hometowns.
Volunteers of America, an organization that operates homeless shelters in Spokane, will use the money to help relocate people who lack local support networks. The program is voluntary and only for individuals who want to leave Spokane.
Fawn Schott, CEO for Volunteers of America of Eastern Washington and North Idaho, said many homeless women and children end up in Spokane after fleeing domestic violence and other dangerous situations.
Those people “may potentially land here, but then don’t have the right supports to be able to keep thriving in this community,” Schott said.
Volunteers of America’s Homeward Bound Project helps people who want to leave Spokane start their lives anew elsewhere. For most people, that means returning to their hometowns, where they have friends and family. Schott said her organization confirms that an individual has a solid support network in another community before helping them move there.
Relocating someone typically costs between $1,000 and $3,000, Schott said. That can include bus or train tickets. It can also cover food costs during travel, hotel rooms and rental deposits. Other expenses, such as Social Security cards and driver’s licenses, are common.
Schott explained that Volunteers of America already receives funding from the state to help people under 24 return home.
But the county’s $20,000 will allow the nonprofit to expand the Homeward Bound Project and run a pilot program through the end of the year to better understand the countywide need for relocation assistance and the average cost to relocate an adult. So far, Volunteers of America has mostly helped young people move back home.
“This is really just to create and help people get back to their natural supports,” Schott said. “We’re all most successful when we have healthy relationships around us.”
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