24/7 Sheltering of Chronic Street Homeless to End in The Region on May 1, 2017 Due to Loss of Funding

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts: Rob McCann, CEO, Catholic Charities, (509) 744-3448 or rmccann@ccspokane.org

Spokane, WA –April 10, 2017 – The House of Charity began sheltering men and women last November and in January opened our doors to provide safe shelter for any adult experiencing homelessness in our community on a  24/7 basis.  Previously, the House of Charity had offered day and meal services to women but had never provided sleeping services to women in its nearly 60 year history. Since January, the House of Charity has also provided 24/7 sheltering services to homeless men and women with animals, couples who did not want to be split up and other sub sections of the homeless population that have been historically difficult to serve.

For the past several months, for the first time in the history of the Spokane Region, the vast majority of the homeless population was living and sleeping in shelters 24/7 thanks to the collaboration between the House of Charity, Salvation Army and Family Promise.  In essence, with 24/7 sheltering available for the first time ever in our region’s history, all homeless men, women and children on the streets in our communities have indeed had a safe place to be.  This was a blessing to these vulnerable men women and children, especially in this past winter, one of the coldest and longest in recent memory.

This collaboration was thanks to the generosity and courageous leadership of the Mayor, City Council President and City Council at the City of Spokane as well as the Downtown Spokane Partnership and many downtown Spokane businesses who donated to the 24/7 sheltering model.

Unfortunately there has not been funding identified to maintain 24/7 services beyond April 30th.  This will result in a reduction of hours of operation at the shelters.  Well over 200 homeless men and women who have been getting 24/7 sheltering will be forced to return to the streets of the City, the County and Spokane Valley.

The House of Charity will continue to sleep 109 men each evening, as it has for almost 60 years.  However the overflow sleeping of 200+ men and women on the ground floor of the HOC will end.  At this time, it is not clear what hours during the day or what daily meals the HOC will be open after May 1st as that is still being planned based on sustainable funding.

Catholic Charities continues its recent, intentional and aggressive strategic plan of building permanent supportive housing for the chronic street homeless of our region despite this troubling development with 24/7 sheltering.  Three new 50 unit supportive housing projects have been opened in recent years and two more are under construction right now with yet another 50 unit complex already awarded for 2018.  The plan to build a permanent apartment for all of our region’s homeless is still in place and the funds to build those projects, coming from IRS tax credits, is also still in place, but unfortunately, by law, those funds cannot be used or diverted to run the homeless shelters.

Without 24/7 sheltering, it is much more difficult to prepare our homeless population for the apartments we are building for them.  There is also a profound financial, quality of life; and human dignity cost to the region as we lose this resource.

There will be a press conference on THURSDAY APRIL 13th at 11:00 a.m. in the House of Charity Chapel to further discuss this situation and the profound impact this change will have on the downtown core, the County and the City of Spokane Valley as previously sheltered homeless men and women once again have no other choice than to embrace life on the streets.  Additional talking points with more detail on this issue will be given out to the media at the press conference and homeless patrons will be available to offer first-hand information to the media.     ###

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