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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Volunteers of America to close Hope House in January

The Hope House women’s shelter, seen on April 14, 2021.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

Volunteers of America announced Tuesday plans to close Hope House women’s shelter at the end of January because of a lack of funding.

The downtown facility will close its 100-bed emergency shelter space and services, while keeping open 20 respite beds for women with varying medical needs and 60 supportive housing apartments above the shelter.

The city of Spokane will not have the funding to support the operating gap of $1.5 million annually, VOA stated in a news release.

VOA generates the remaining $700,000 of its operating budget through fundraising and providing contracted respite beds. These funds support the daily operations of the shelter, plus housing and mental health for the women.

“This announcement comes with immense sadness,” stated Fawn Schott, president and CEO of Volunteers of America of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. “From this we will move forward to identify and meet a different community need. We have been honored to do this work for so many years. Thank you Spokane for trusting VOA to support these women on their path to reach their full potential.”

The shelter will stop accepting new women beginning Jan. 1 and will close on Jan. 31.

“We hope to reimagine the shelter space to fill a community need,” said Rae-Lynn Barden, a VOA spokesperson.

The shelter has been run by VOA since 2000. In 2020, the nonprofit used federal and private dollars to build Hope House 2.0 and expanded the number of shelter beds from 32 to 100. The new facility opened in spring of 2021.

VOA warned late last year that it could close if it did not receive enough funding.

Spokane will have provided approximately $1 million to VOA in 2022, said Brian Coddington, the city’s communication director.

On Monday, the city’s Community, Housing and Human Services department issued a notice of availability for $2 million in funding for organizations offering shelter beds and services in 2023. VOA still has the opportunity to apply for those funds, which are awarded through a competitive public process. To apply, organizations must have been a recipient of 2021-22 COVID funds for shelter beds.

“The city asked yesterday to schedule a meeting with Volunteers of America to talk about their concerns, believing a direct conversation about future needs is the best way to work toward a solution,” Coddington said.

Barden said VOA will apply for the funds, but will need to receive $1.5 million in order to continue operating.

“There’s no guarantee because others will be applying,” she said.

In the past 12 months, Hope House provided emergency shelter and housing services to over 600 women, according to VOA. Hope House assisted 108 of the women into stable and permanent housing.

James Hanlon's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.