homelessness

Celebrating our Front Porch Family

Last week we welcomed the Dirty Queens and Kings to our front porch once more, this time in celebration! We invited all of the folks who had slept on the porch, and all of the passionate people from Better Health Together, SNAP, Volunteers of America, and the City of Spokane who worked, often on volunteered time, to help these young people transition to housing.

There were smiles and laughter, and a few tears, as we came together to share experiences, hopes and gratitude for this group. Many of the Kings and Queens were missing from the crowd, but for happy reasons, they are at work in their new jobs or at their new homes! 

One of the Dirty Kings shared about the importance of relationships in his life. When you are homeless and have so little, someone who will have your back is the most important resource.  “It doesn’t take blood oaths to stick together,” he said while sharing his deep appreciation for the team. Every cup of coffee, simple hello, or kind smile had an impact.

That impact goes both ways. Virginia, a Better Health Together Community Health Worker, said to the Kings and Queens with teary eyes that it was a privilege to be let in to their lives.

We cannot emphasize enough how much pride we have in our team and partners throughout Spokane, who truly lead this work with their hearts. They have worked tirelessly to build trusting relationships and advocate for these young people.

As Virginia said, “Community is beautiful!” and we all felt that so truthfully. Thank you to everyone who has opened their hearts to the Front Porch Kingdom.

Dirty Queens and Kings

Last fall, as the weather began to get cold, a handful of young people arrived at our front porch looking for a place to sleep. While uninvited, rather than shooing them away under the freeway we chose to respond with compassion. Most of the folks on our porch (self-titled the “Dirty Queens and Kings”), are veterans of the foster care system who have experienced some of the most horrific trauma we could imagine. As we got to know them, we learned why sleeping on a porch was better to them than accessing services within a system not quite designed to serve their complex needs. I am very proud of our compassionate team, that helped in their spare time most of those months and worked to connect our front porch guests with services to stabilize their lives. We are pleased that as of last month, all of The Dirty Queens and Kings have started an application for housing, and two have already received their keys.

While this may feel like a happy ending, it isn’t. Those young people were “lucky” they ended up on our front porch. There are over 3000 homeless kids attending school in Spokane, a 60% increase in the last 7 years according to a EWU study funded by Priority Spokane. At EHF, we usually tackle issues where our investment sees real promise for moving the needle in a sustainable, systemic way. And always through collaboration. Yet these were homeless people who literally landed on our doorstep, not exactly systems. And this is perhaps the first time one of our shared values, compassion, was at odds with other valid concerns from other community stakeholders.

There are a few key questions we need to ask ourselves:
-Where do we go from here on teen homelessness?
-Is there opportunity to collaborate or play a value added role in a sustainable systemic improvement in the number of homeless teens and young adults?
-What does it mean to champion “health for all?” Or health equity for all?

EHF is committed to tackling these tough questions in the coming months. We know that without a strong intent to be collaborative, compassionate and fiercely dedicated to eliminating health inequities, we won’t make progress.

-Antony Chiang, EHF President

Priority Spokane focuses on reducing student homelessness

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Check out the Inlander's report on addressing student homelessness in Spokane County.  According to the report, student homelessness in Spokane County is a third higher the state average, and has risen 60% in the past five years, so the opportunity to improve services for students experiencing homelessness is large.  Kudos to Priority Spokane for focusing on this important issue and bringing together community resources from the public and nonprofit sectors to support our students!

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