Fig Tree Logo

New Hope seeks solutions to homelessness


New Hope Resource Center in Colbert is sponsoring a presentation on "A Solution to Homelessness in North Spokane County" at 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 3, in the Robinson Teaching Theater at Whitworth University.

The event features Charles Durrett, architect, author and advocate of affordable, socially-responsible and sustainable-design housing.

He has contributed to community-based architecture and co-housing in North America and around the world, including Haystack Heights in Spokane's Perry District.

Charles has developed several communities for people exiting homelessness and understands the challenges they face. He recently was in eastern Poland to help develop childcare and housing for refugees fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"He will discuss an innovative solution to catalyze community engagement in a North-Spokane-oriented effort to meet the crisis in our area," said Shari DeBerg of the New Hope Resource Center Housing and Homelessness Task Force in Colbert.

The focus of the project will be on "community first," a concept Charles has piloted and uses along with "housing first" that provides the support people need to stabilize their lives.

"The entire community benefits when these needs are addressed. It has been shown that it is cost effective to provide permanent solutions," Shari said.

When Pastor Eric Peterson founded Colbert Presbyterian Church, the congregation built a separate building to house New Hope Resource Center, a nonprofit that serves extremely low-income people in several zip code areas of northern Spokane County, including Mead, Colbert, Elk, Chattaroy and Riverside.

New Hope is supported financially by 12 local congregations, grants and donations. Many New Hope clients are "precariously housed" or homeless, Shari said. "Some are living in cars, old RVs, crude structures and tents. In fact, Mead School District reported 400 to 450 students last year who met the HUD definition for homeless."

Founded in 2003, New Hope sees a growing crisis.

In July, 101 new clients came from its service area seeking help. Clients receive help with such needs as food, clothing, household items, personal essentials and, when necessary, outdoor survival gear.

"Our mission is to serve basic human needs in North Spokane County. We do this without discrimination, following Christ's example," Shari said.

In April 2021, New Hope formed a Housing and Homelessness Task Force to research and address critical housing needs in the outlying areas. After extensive research, the task force has decided that tackling the problem in the suburban and rural area will not look like projects elsewhere in Spokane.

"This event will inform the community that we have a pressing local problem, one that we, as a community, can work together to solve," Shari said.

Co-sponsors of the presentation include Whitworth University, the League of Women Voters.

Other donations to offset the cost of the program are welcome, Shari said.

For information, call 466-6811 or email

Copyright@ The Fig Tree, October 2022