Thursday, July 7, 2011

Homeless shelters feeling the pinch from state budget cuts

This week Rep. Andy Billig met with Rusty Barnett, program director of Hope House in Spokane, for a tour of the downtown facility. Hope House provides shelter for 30-34 homeless women every night year round. Women visiting Hope House can shower, store their belongings safely, have a hot meal and a bed to sleep in at night. Those interested in looking for work, finding a place to live, or getting help for chemical dependency or mental health issues are also provided with the assistance they need.

Hope House (originally the Downtown Women's Shelter) was founded in 1998 in response to serial murders of Spokane women. Operated by Volunteers of America since 2001, Hope House gets its funding from federal, state, county and city sources, as well as private donations. Food for shelter residents comes from the Second Harvest Food Bank and the Women's and Children's Free Restaurant, both also located in Spokane.

Like all nonprofits, Ms. Barnett and her associates are feeling the squeeze caused by the recession.

"I worry that cutting services now will cost all of us more in the long run," she told Rep. Billig.

Photo: Rusty Barnett, left, chats with Rep. Andy Billig in the kitchen of Hope House in Spokane. The artwork behind them and throughout the facility was provided by the shelter's residents.

To read this blog post in Spanish, go here.