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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane Valley to have homeless shelter beds for the first time

Spokane Valley City Hall is seen on May 11.  (Kathy Plonka/The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane Valley is giving five organizations a combined $4 million to create more housing and services for homeless people, seniors and low-income families.

The City Council unanimously approved the decision last month after reviewing a dozen proposals. The money will come out of the $16 million Spokane Valley received through the American Rescue Plan, a federal stimulus bill Congress passed to help the country recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The $4 million will help two nonprofits provide Spokane Valley’s first homeless shelter beds. The Valley indirectly funds shelters in Spokane, but lacks any of its own.

“This is new,” said Joe Ader, executive director of the homeless service provider Family Promise Spokane. “It is a big step forward for the Valley.”

Reclaim Project Recovery, which helps men dealing with addiction, homelessness and criminal backgrounds, will get $1.46 million. The Spokane-based nonprofit will put that money toward a multipurpose facility in the Valley.

Shawn Kingsbury, Reclaim’s CEO, said the facility will likely be a former warehouse. The building will house 10-12 shelter beds, a transitional sober living facility and programming space.

Kingsbury said Reclaim already houses about 140 men in Spokane. The nonprofit provides clients with jobs and training, often in construction and landscaping.

“We believe that we can make a very large impact and be quite a strategic partner with Spokane Valley when it comes to lifting people out of addiction, homelessness and incarceration,” Kingsbury said.

Spokane Valley City Council members said they believe Reclaim’s approach – of rapidly giving individuals jobs and training – is the right one.

“If we don’t do something for those people and put them on a productive path,” Councilman Rod Higgins said, “then we’re making a set of new homeless people.”

Mayor Pam Haley noted that Spokane Valley is contracting with Reclaim for landscaping work. Reclaim clients could one day perform maintenance work on city vehicles, too, she said.

“It’s bigger than a shelter,” Haley said. “It’s more of a change in life for some of the people who are being helped.”

Family Promise of Spokane, which provides shelter and homelessness services for families, will receive $1.1 million for its multifaceted FLASH program.

Ader said the program will include school-based case managers who identify Valley kids in need of stable housing. The program will also offer families rental assistance, apartments and shelter space for up to four families at a time.

Haley said the Family Promise project appealed to her because it allows families to stay in Spokane Valley, as opposed to moving to a Spokane shelter.

“You want to make it as easy as you can for people that are experiencing homelessness to keep their kids in the same place and at least have some stability,” Haley said.

Ader said the FLASH program will prioritize speed and attempt to house families in a few days, rather than having them spend weeks in a shelter.

He also said the program will rely on an atypical approach. Whereas most service providers help those with the most severe needs first, FLASH will focus on families that “need just a little bit of help” and may not otherwise qualify for assistance.

Ader said focusing on that population will allow Family Promise to help more people and prevent them from becoming homeless.

Volunteers of America will receive $500,000 for a new 36-bed facility in Spokane. The facility, which will serve people between the ages of 16 and 20, will include 18 emergency shelter beds and 18 dormitory-style beds.

Rae-Lynn Barden, Volunteers of America’s marketing and communications director, said the new Mission Avenue building will be 45,000 square feet. The $16 million project will break ground in October.

Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners, often referred to as SNAP, will receive $472,000 to create more affordable housing units for seniors. Habitat for Humanity will receive the same amount to buy land for affordable housing.

City Councilman Ben Wick said he believes investing the $4 million is worthwhile.

“It’s trying to help those who are wanting to help themselves,” Wick said. “We’re trying to help our community, and these are Valley people.”