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Spokane approves $160K for homeless outreach program to fund four full-time positions 

click to enlarge YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak

The city of Spokane will significantly increase the number of homeless outreach staff it pays for this year, after approving $160,000 from unappropriated reserves to fund four full-time positions through the end of the year.

Currently, the city pays for the equivalent of just more than one full-time outreach position, split between two part-time jobs currently contracted through the Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners, or SNAP, and Frontier Behavioral Health, says Tija Danzig, who manages the city's homeless services program.

Outreach workers make connections with people experiencing homelessness, often talking to people who aren't staying at shelters, and sometimes making contact while someone's encampment is being cleared after a code enforcement or police complaint.

The success of those on-the-street outreach workers getting people housed is significant: Between 57 and 65 percent of the people that the outreach workers speak to and work with on the street go directly into a housing placement, says Dawn Kinder, director of Spokane's Neighborhood and Business Services.

"Our outreach teams do sort of case management on the street," Kinder says. "That's why we're trying to invest in solutions we know are effective."

The funding was approved by the City Council Monday, June 18, after a few public commenters asked the council not to spend the money on the effort. In response to the public testimony, Council President Ben Stuckart and council members Karen Stratton and Mike Fagan said the money would be well spent, as outreach has proven effective at getting people into housing.

An earlier version of this story said that the original part-time positions were partially funded through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It has since been corrected to the Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners.
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