(The Center Square) – The Spokane Council has voted unanimously to prioritize funding in the 2023 budget to keep the doors of Hope House open and support other existing shelter providers.
Toward that end, the council intends to use $3.5 million of American Rescue Plan funds that were set aside in March for homeless capital and operational needs.
By a 6-0 vote – Councilor Betsy Wilkerson was absent from Monday’s meeting – the council supported funding for night-by-night shelters at the same levels as the 2022 budget.
“City council acted to reverse the mayor’s proposal to cut funding to existing homeless shelter operators by $1.5 million next year,” said Council President Breean Beggs in a written statement. “I believe that we should prioritize our existing limited funds towards keeping our trusted long-time partners like Hope House open before we consider adding new beds. The city will continue to work towards opening more permanently affordable beds and keeping warming space open during these challenging times.”
Volunteers of America, which has run Hope House since 2000, warned late last year that the shelter would close without more funding.
In 2022, $1 million was provided to Hope House, according to Brian Coddington, the city’s communication director.
Prior to the council taking action, the city’s Community, Housing and Human Services Department issued a notice that $2 million in funding for organizations offering shelter and services was available in 2023. The funds were to be awarded through a competitive public process, said Coddington.
VOA informed the council that without funding certainty, they would likely close their doors at the end of January, leaving 80 women without shelter, said Beggs.
“I believe that we should prioritize our existing limited funds towards keeping our trusted long-time partners like Hope House open before we consider adding new beds," he said. "The city will continue to work towards opening more permanently affordable beds and keeping warming space open during these challenging times.”
Hope House provides services to women aged 18 and older that includes not only shelter space but access to a community health worker to address housing, and connection to community-based primary care and behavioral health services.
According to the Hope House website, the space, originally known as the Downtown Women's Shelter was founded in response to the 1997 murders of women on the streets of Spokane.