A year of great strides in CHHS with homelessness, housing
Brian Walker, Communications Manager, 509.625.6765
Friday, December 16, 2022 at 3 p.m.
Bolstered by the addition of eight new staff despite a tough hiring climate coming out of the pandemic in 2022, your City’s Community Health and Human Services (CCHS) Department distributed a total of $40 million in funding from federal, state and local sources subrecipients in the regional fight to reduce homelessness and tackle the housing crisis.
The distribution amount has increased every year since 2018. More than 200 contracts were executed by CHHS in 2022.
Homelessness and housing must be addressed by teaming up with our community and government partners together as homelessness can’t be reduced without housing and the battle can’t be won alone.
Here’s a glimpse of those partnerships in action this year:
- About 130 community volunteers showed their heart during frigid temperatures in February to survey homeless individuals for the annual Point-in-Time Count, a requirement of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development that helps determine funding for homeless services and assists regional planning efforts. Volunteers can sign up now for the 2023 PIT Count Jan. 24-29.
- HUD in March announced $4.3 million in Continuum of Care Competition Awards for Spokane area homeless housing and service programs. The federal grants, applied for by CHHS staff, provided funding to help individuals and families experiencing homelessness move into permanent housing with access to supportive services and the goal of long-term stability.
- The City, on behalf of more than 20 public and private partners, submitted a plan in July to the state Department of Commerce seeking to allocate $24.3 million in state funds toward moving individuals from the homeless camp along Interstate 90 into safe and healthy environments. The plan identified more than 650 spaces, half of them permanent housing, for individuals camping on state property.
- After considering more than 100 properties, the City engaged in a public-private partnership to open the Trent Resource and Assistance Center now operated by The Salvation Army with support provider Revive Counseling to add more bed capacity, offer critical support services to help individuals find their pathway out of homelessness and into housing and a safe, warm place to receive hot meals. The navigational center also offers flex capacity during hazardous weather conditions.
- Public libraries provided cooling centers for all individuals during four heat wave activation periods encompassing 20 days over the summer.
- The Cities of Spokane and Spokane Valley, Spokane County and the Spokane Regional Health District teamed up to launch sheltermespokane.org, a public website that allows the community to view updated homeless shelter occupancy rates and other information submitted directly by providers on a daily basis. The dashboard is part of Mayor Nadine Woodward’s Homelessness Plan 2.0 transparency and accountability strategy.
- The Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP) is a new initiative involving multiple groups designed to reduce youth homelessness. The goal is a coordinated community approach to preventing youth homelessness. HUD selected the Spokane City and County Continuum of Care, one of 33 chosen from 97 communities that applied, with a $2.7 million grant to participate.
- CHHS provided about 30 trainings for partners to input homelessness data into the regional Continuum of Care’s Content Management Information System (CMIS) that has increased to 450 users. The data is used to allocate resources, assess program and project performance, and set policy across homeless crisis response systems.
- The City was awarded a $680,460 grant in February from the Washington State Department of Commerce to help revitalize the Liberty Park Terrace affordable housing campus in the Perry District in the East Central Neighborhood. The funds are being used to pay for utility connection fees and improvements needed to connect 54 affordable units to the City’s water and sewer systems.
- June marked the opening of the affordable housing project Sinto Commons, partially funded through the City’s Home Investment Partnership Program (HOME). The City’s total HOME contributions for the 47-unit apartment village of Community Frameworks was $780,000 to support the construction of 11 units within the structure.
- A total of $10 million in funding for 11 affordable housing projects that are being leveraged by three different sources was approved in August. The funding will support the construction of 381 new affordable housing units, rehabilitation of existing affordable housing units, and supportive services to maintain housing stability. An affordable housing funding priority workshop hosted by CHHS in October at the West Central Community drew about 60 attendees, a demonstration of widespread community interest in further attacking the housing crisis in 2023.
- The City partners with SNAP to administer two home repair programs to assist low-income homeowners in maintaining safe and healthy living conditions. With the Essential Home Repair Program, which offers minor home repair grants to address hazards, there were 130 total home repairs with $500,000 in 2022. For the Single-Family Rehabilitation Program, which provides low-interest home loans for major home repairs, there were 13 total home repairs with $1.4 million.
- The City, in collaboration with subcontractors FORWARD (formerly LiveStories) Family Promise and the Carl Maxey Center that process applications, has distributed more than $33 million to more than 6,500 city households over the past 18 months in federal and state funds for the emergency rent assistance program. The distribution rate was faster than most jurisdictions.
CHHS will be seeking to fill five more vacancies in 2023 to continue the momentum of collaborating with regional partners on more new opportunities and distributing funds for services and housing options for our most vulnerable population.