Fighting homelessness on the Palouse

Since announcing an additional $7 million philanthropic investment in local communities six months ago, Avista has already contributed more than $837,000 toward programs and projects impacting the investment’s three key focus areas: Homelessness, Small Town Pride and Youth Success.

A recent beneficiary, Family Promise of the Palouse, received $25,000 toward the purchase of a 14-passenger van essential to their mission of providing immediate shelter to homeless families in the Moscow/Pullman area through a network of 30 interfaith congregations and hundreds of volunteers.   

Family Promise of the Palouse is designed to work with families, meaning at least one adult and one child. Families who are accepted into the program agree to work with staff to develop a plan for regaining stability. Family Promise provides support to help families work toward their goals by locating resources, providing job and educational support, assisting with financial planning, and helping to locate affordable housing.

Once in the Family Promise program, families spend their nights at the local host congregation, staying in each facility for one week at a time. Families stay together and are served dinner each night by the host congregation. In the mornings after breakfast, Family Promise transports families to their day center (using the passenger van funded in partnership with Avista). Children attend school and adults work toward individualized goals. Each evening, families return to the host congregation. This service is designed to help families regain stability. The length of stay is typically about 60 days with a maximum program length of 90 days. After families have completed shelter care, they transition into After Care/Follow Up and continue to meet with case managers to work on their case-plan and financial literacy. Once families have completed up to a year of After Care, they graduate from Family Promise of the Palouse.

“Homelessness is an incredibly complex issue facing many of the communities Avista serves, both large and small,” said Kristine Meyer, Avista Foundation Executive Director. “Over the past six months, we have been actively engaged in facilitated discussions with community partners – those who provide services and those who provide funding – to identify resources, gaps and understand homelessness in a deeper way. We want our significant investment to be a catalyst for change.”   

So far this year, Avista has funded ten grant applications totaling $263,000 to combat homelessness including Family Promise of the Palouse and $7500 to the Moscow Affordable Housing Trust to equip three new housing units with energy efficient appliances. In Oregon, the Klamath Lake Regional Housing Center received $15,000 for their home repair program which helps keep low income residents in their homes. The Glory Hall Homeless Shelter in Juneau, Alaska, will be able to purchase land outside the downtown core to build a new shelter, thanks to $50,000 from Avista. In the Spokane area, more than $115,000 has already been earmarked to battle homelessness including a partnership with United Way, the City of Spokane and the Ballmer Group to fund a full-time coordinator position focused exclusively on identifying (by name) and providing personalized support for homeless youth under age 24.

“Of urgent concern in Spokane is the upcoming winter and challenges the community is facing with a growing homeless population,” Meyer explained. “Avista has been actively convening conversations with community partners to identify the urgent gaps. This is a tremendous opportunity to engage many funding partners to fill the gaps while leveraging our investment to deepen the impact of our dollars.”

Non-profits and other organizations working to prevent or combat homelessness are encouraged to continue submitting grant applications through the Avista Foundation website. The grant application process is organized quarterly by category. Arts, Culture and Environment grant applications may be submitted from Oct. 1 – Nov. 1. Health and Human Services grants will be accepted from Jan. 1 – Feb. 1.

Funding for the $7 million investment does not come from utility rates, but instead comes from shareholders through the various philanthropy programs of Avista. Additionally, the company infuses the communities across its five-state service area with more than $2.5 million annually through Avista’s corporate and foundation giving.

Photo credit to Family Promise of the Palouse

Learn more about Family Promise of Palouse

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