December 2, 2022 updated Press Release:
After publication, The Fig Tree received the following press release:
VOA receives $330,000 from Commerce to support Hope House for six months
Volunteers of America (VOA) has received funding from the Washington State Department of Commerce to keep Hope House Women's Shelter open until June 30, 2023. The department has also committed to $160,000 for respite beds for women exiting Camp Hope.
This funding was granted after VOA was made aware that the City of Spokane did not have the funding to support the annual operating gap of $1.5 million dollars for Hope House 24/7 women's shelter. VOA raises the remaining $700,000 of its operating budget through fundraising and providing contracted respite beds in our community.
The new funding will support six months of daily operations of the shelter plus housing placement and mental health for these women.
"We are grateful for this gap funding and hope the City will fund the ongoing operations through their open RFP process," said Fawn Schott, VOA president and CEO. "We can now ensure women will not be turned to the streets this winter and our incredible staff can continue housing women in our community."
VOA has applied for the full $1.5 million funding gap through the competitive request for proposal process (RFP) with the City of Spokane and is waiting to hear if the request has been granted. "VOA is hopeful the City of Spokane will identify the funding they have committed to the new shelter, and we can maintain our services to the at-risk women in our community," stated Schott.
In the past twelve months, Hope House provided emergency shelter and housing services to over 600 women. Hope House assisted 18 percent (108) of these women into stable and permanent housing.
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With no funds for operations, shelter to be closed
With no funding available from the City of Spokane to support the annual gap of $1.5 million in its operating budget, Hope House Women's Shelter of Volunteers of America (VOA) will stop accepting new women on Jan. 1 and close Jan. 31, 2023.
The Sisters of Providence started the shelter in 1997 because a serial killer was preying on women in downtown Spokane. In 2001, VOA took over operating the shelter, at 111 W. Third Ave., said Rae-Lynn Barden, communications director.
VOA still owns that building and operates it as permanent supportive housing with case management for women.
In 2021, Hope House 2.0 opened in a new building at 318 S. Adams St., because the original low-barrier shelter had space for only 32 women and was turning away 10 to 15 women a night.
The new building, built with federal and private funds for respite beds and permanent supportive housing, has had 80 beds for the 24/7 low-barrier shelter for women from 18 to 79 years old and 60 apartments for permanent supportive housing for single women and men. The apartments and medical respite beds will continue.
"The shelter averages 77 each night and is often full. Occasionally it has turned women away," said Rae-Lynn, who has worked two years with VOA.
In the past 12 months, it provided emergency shelter and housing services for more than 500 women and helped 108—18 percent of them—find stable, permanent housing, she reported.
The shelter space is organized in cubby rooms with bunk beds. There is a commercial laundry, a kitchen serving three meals a day, a communal living space for activities, church services, knitting groups, art groups, garden boxes, card games and reading.
There is onsite case management to help women find housing, Rae-Lynn said. VOA's 15 programs offer case management.
Even though the community needs more low-barrier shelter beds for single women, the shelter will close because of no funding.
"The city has only $2 million competitive Request for Proposal (RFP) funding," Rae-Lynn said. "We would need most of it and could not continue with partial funding."
She said VOA raises $700,000 of its operating budget through fundraising and providing contracted respite beds.
Rae-Lynn said Hope House shelter staff have been notified and will be transferred to other programs in VOA and partners.
"We are working to help women in the shelter find housing and reunify with family," she said. "We do not want to see the women on the streets. We would love to keep the shelter going."
Meanwhile, the VOA is looking at other ways to use the space. One idea is to increase to 20 medical respite beds for women with lower needs for care.
The permanent supportive housing has separate funding and will continue.
"This announcement comes with immense sadness," said Fawn Schott, VOA president and CEO. "We will move forward to identify and meet a different community need. We have been honored to do this work of supporting these women on their path to reach their full potential."
For information, call 710-8944 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.