Volunteers of America, Spokane City Council work to establish young adult homeless shelter

SPOKANE, Wash. – Young people without a home could soon have a new shelter to stay in.

The City of Spokane has been holding onto a $2.7 million grant given by the Department of Commerce to help establish a shelter for young adults between the ages of 18 and 24. That money is supposed to run out by the end of the year.

The plan was for the city to use the Cannon Street Shelter as a young adult shelter, but Mayor Nadine Woodward ended up designating it as a shelter for all ages.

RELATED: City Council pleads with Mayor Woodward to reconsider stance on young adult shelter in Spokane

Young adults in Spokane do have a place to go, a shelter like The House of Charity or others. But, it’s places like those advocates say aren’t suitable for people between 18 and 24.

Bridget Cannon, the senior vice president of youth services with Volunteers of America, says those young adults still have some growing to do developmentally.

Adult shelters don’t have the services they need to grow and try and get away from the chronic cycle of homelessness.

“I don’t think people realize how many young people are actually experiencing homelessness,” she said.

Spokane City Council planned on talking about finding a new standalone building for a young adult homeless shelter, but it worked things out behind the scenes with the VOA in doing so.

“We know that the data, if we intervene now, before they become chronically homeless, we’ll probably get them back into society with jobs and be stable,” said Breean Beggs, Spokane City Council president.

VOA currently has a shelter helping kids under the age of 18 and is now designated, by City Council, to help young adults.

“If they are Crosswalk youth and they wake up, they do see their peers around them. But, if they wake up in an adult shelter and they look around, they’re looking at their future, which is awfully scary,” Cannon said.

The goal for VOA is to get the new shelter up by August or September next year. It’s hoping to find a location outside of downtown Spokane but not too far out of the city, since the young adults need to access it.

Starting April, VOA will have designated shelter beds for young women in its new shelter, Hope House. It will work with other partners in finding designated beds for young men.

It’s also working with the Department of Commerce in getting an extension on using the grant money.


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