(PHOTO AND STORY: KHQ.COM)
Rob McCann, CEO of Catholic Charities reported Tuesday that the House of Charity's 24/7 sheltering of men and women will end on May 1, due to loss of funding. The change is likely to have a huge impact on our region as previously sheltered homeless men and women have no other choice but to embrace life on the streets.
The House of Charity began sheltering men and women last November and in January opened its doors to provide safe shelter for any adult experiencing homelessness in the community, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Previously, the House of Charity had offered day and meal services to women but had never provided sleeping services to women in its nearly 60 year history. Since January, the House of Charity has also provided 24/7 sheltering services to homeless men and women with animals, couples who did not want to be split up and other sub sections of the homeless population that have been historically difficult to serve.
McCann reports that for the past several months, for the first time in the history of the Spokane region, the majority of homeless people were living and sleeping in round-the-clock shelters thanks to the collaboration between House of Charity, Salvation Army, and Family Promise.
That collaboration was made possible by Mayor Condon, City Council, and the City of Spokane as well as Downtown Spokane Partnership and many downtown businesses who donated to the 24/7 sheltering model. But there has not been funding identified to maintain the 24/7 services beyond the end of April.
McCann says well over 200 people will be forced to return to the streets of Spokane, Spokane Valley and Spokane County.
The House of Charity will continue to sleep 109 men each evening, as it has for almost 60 years. However the overflow sleeping of 200+ men and women on the ground floor of the HOC will end. At this time, it is not clear what hours during the day or what daily meals the HOC will be open after May 1st as that is still being planned based on sustainable funding.
McCann says it continues its recent intentional and aggressive strategic plan of building permanent and supportive housing for the chronic street homelessness. Three new 50 unit supportive housing projects have been opened in recent years and two more are under construction right now with yet another 50 unit complex already awarded for 2018. The plan to build a permanent apartment for all of our region’s homeless is still in place and the funds to build those projects, coming from IRS tax credits, is also still in place, but unfortunately, by law, those funds cannot be used or diverted to run the homeless shelters.
McCann says that without the 24/7 sheltering, it becomes more difficult to prepare the region's homeless population for those apartment buildings and, McCann wrote in a release Tuesday, "there is also a profound financial, quality of life and human dignity cost to the region as we lose this resource."