Consolidated Homeless Grant August Newsletter

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Consolidated Homeless Grant (CHG) Newsletter

Aug. 3, 2017

Please forward to your sub grantees and contact your CHG program manager if you have any questions.

Spotlight: Spokane 24/7 Shelter

House of Charity in Spokane

If you were at the Conference on Ending Homelessness in Tacoma this year, you may have attended the session, “Mission Possible: Lessons from the Bumpy Road of Creating a 24/7 Low Barrier Shelter in Spokane”. Samantha Dompier and Heather Schleigh from the House of Charity recounted the experience of expanding services to create and operate a low-barrier shelter. Samantha has been kind enough to provide a write-up for the Consolidated Homeless Grant (CHG) Newsletter for those who missed the session, as well as provide follow-up information on the future of low barrier options in Spokane.


On May 6, 2016 Spokane Mayor David Condon and City Council President Ben Stuckart, jointly announced the city’s priority of funding additional shelter capacity that would be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to households in need. Up until that point, the shelters were full every night. This meant many households in crisis were not able to access shelter the same day, and often had to wait days or weeks before shelter capacity opened.

The House of Charity (HOC), previously a men’s-only shelter, transitioned to provide shelter for individuals of all genders beginning with increased sleeping capacity in November 2016 and expanding to 24/7 services in January of 2017. Prior to adding the 24/7 capacity, HOC sought feedback from community partners, youth over 18 and adults experiencing homelessness to inform the program design. As a result, HOC reduced barriers to entering shelter even further by allowing all pets (as long as they were not aggressive), providing a separate space for vulnerable individuals and allowing partners to be sheltered at the same facility. In six months of providing shelter for individuals, HOC sheltered 2292 men and 554 women—an unprecedented number of individuals, especially when compared to the 803 men and zero women sheltered 10 months prior in 2016. 

The funding needed to sustain 24/7 services for individuals was not identified for the entire year of 2017 and, unfortunately, HOC had to stop providing 24/7 shelter on May 1, resulting in many individuals being displaced to the street with great impact to downtown businesses and emergency services. Because of their commitment to the most vulnerable, the City of Spokane was able to pass a special budget ordinance that secured funding for sustaining 24/7 shelter, and HOC will be reopening 24/7 shelter services for individuals August 1. 

Family Promise, previously a family shelter with a capacity of three families at a time/16 families in a year, partnered with the City of Spokane to provide 24/7 shelter for families. Beginning in December 2016, Family Promise opened the Day Center for families called “Open Doors,” and Salvation Army provided overnight shelter for the families. In June, Family Promise opened up an overnight shelter so that families did not have to be shuttled from one location to another to access the services they needed. From December of 2016 – July of 2017 Open Doors served 171 households for a total of 618 individuals. 

While the model is still new, the intent of 24/7 shelter is to ensure that any household in need of emergency shelter can access it at any time, day or night and be quickly connected to the resources they need to end their homelessness.

Megan Kendig joins Housing Assistance Unit

Megan Kindig

Megan Kendig joined the Housing Assistance Unit on July 17 as a temporary program manager. Megan will be filling in for Stephanie Reinauer during Stephanie’s six-month maternity leave. Megan most recently worked at the Washington State Office of Financial Management. She also has direct services experience from her time at the Opportunity Council in Whatcom County. We are excited to have her perspective, smarts and positive energy on our team.

Myths and Facts

Myths and Facts

Myth: If a household meets the definition of chronically homeless and receives Rapid Re-Housing assistance, they lose the chronically homeless status and are then ineligible for Permanent Supportive Housing.

Fact: Households served through Rapid Re-Housing retain their status as chronically homeless while they are receiving assistance. Households should not be denied Rapid
Re-Housing assistance while they wait for Permanent Supportive Housing. 

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National Conference on Ending Homelessness

Ian Kinder-Pyle, program coordinator in the Housing Assistance Unit at Commerce, attended the National Conference on Ending Homelessness in Washington D.C. July 17-19. We asked Ian to give us a summary of some of the highlights:

  • Marc Jones with the Center for Social Innovation led a Supporting Partnerships for Anti-Racist Communities initiative in several locations, including Pierce County. He raised several poignant thoughts surrounding racial equity, with his central point being “the agenda does not move unless it is someone’s job to move it.”
  • Iain De Jong of OrgCode advocated skeptical empiricism in all our work. A recurring point for him was that most people in poverty do not become homeless. The homeless industry should try to figure out how they are able to do this and then replicate it.
  • U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson gave the opening plenary. He advocated a housing-first model and generally reflected the conventional wisdom of the housing services. He highlighted the Continuum of Care (CoC) Notice of Funding Availability, which dropped immediately before the conference and a second round of the Youth Homeless Demonstration project (YHDP). The YHDP application will become available in late fall (possibly September) and will include $43 million in funding for 11 communities (five rural) throughout the country.
  • New grants through CoC Bonus funding should offer approximately $350,000 for new project and expansions. New Joint Transitional Housing programs are designed to help communities that have low rates of shelter use. Chronic homeless "dedicated plus" beds are meant to solve situations where long-term chronic homeless clients are placed into permanent housing, subsequently lose their housing and are no longer eligible for chronic homeless-specific programs. These clients would still be eligible for the "dedicated plus" beds. 


Host Home Programs

In July, the Office of Youth Homelessness presented a report on host home programs that serve homeless youth in Washington to the Governor and Legislature. The report includes an overview of existing host homes, recommendations and areas of future study.

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14 Things that Irk Iain about the VI-SPDAT

Iain De-Jong outlines 14 things that people do with the VI-SPDAT (Vulnerability Index-Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool), say about the VI-SPDAT, or do not know about the VI-SPDAT that irk him. Read his blog post here: VI-SPDAT: 14 Things That Irk Me

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