Low income tenants in Spokane County that need eviction help due to a sudden change of income may be able to qualify for homeless prevention services. If it is too late for a grant or legal aid to assist, then the family can apply for Rapid Rehousing, which is another option in the county for the currently homeless.
There are several non-profits that partner with the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) on housing matters. Some of the agencies that try to stop evictions include Volunteers of America of Eastern Washington, House of Charity, and the Salvation Army among others. Each has their own application process for aid and provides their own set of services to clients, as noted below.
This is for an emergency only. Residents of the region can seek pro-active help from the resources below. There is assistance for anyone facing homelessness, no matter the cause. The tenant could be facing a legal dispute with their landlord, be close to having their heat, water or utilities shut off, or maybe they are behind on rent. In any case there may be eviction assistance available to them.
The root cause of the financial hardship needs to be a sudden, unexpected change in their income. The economic crisis may be due to health problems, an unexpected car repair which impacted employment, medical bills, or a reduction in work hours. If the Spokane County tenant has lived above and beyond their means, or they live in a home that is affordable, then the likelihood of being assisted is much rarer.
The goal of eviction prevention is to give a little bit of assistance to keep the family stable. It buys them time so they do not go homeless. A government grant can go a long way towards keeping the family out of a shelter. Or maybe it will help a single mom keep the family together. Some of what may be provided as a form of homeless prevention is as follows.
Another option, which is for Spokane County families with a medical issue, is Housing & Essential Needs (HEN). The case managers at DSHS need to give a referral to this. But the program can offer housing and other items. Residents that qualify can also be given clothing, personal items, and even help for transportation needs if the lack of a ride may cause homelessness. This may be a bus token or gasoline voucher.
When the eviction prevention programs referenced above do not help, or if the applicant is too far behind on their housing needs, then Volunteers of America of Washington and others (including the Salvation Army) will try to minimize the time someone spends homeless. The tools they use to meet that goal of stopping people from living in a car or on the streets are as follows.
Shelters can be used for the homeless person. This is for short term accommodations only. There are centers in Spokane County that are operated by churches such as St. Margaret's and other groups. Some shelters are focused on women that were evicted, veterans, the disabled, or even single parents. So each unit is different.
Spokane County DSHS, or local non-profits such as Catholic Charities, may even have free motel or hotel vouchers. This are expensive for the government to provide, and are generally a last resort when all the shelters are full. A voucher may only pay for a night or two as well.
Once the formerly homeless family is stable, then staff will help them with the housing search process in Spokane. Since many landlords will not lease to someone with an eviction on their record, this can be challenging. This is when the advice of a Spokane case manager can really help.
Grants can pay for some rehousing as well as moving costs. When a client can't raise the money they need to pay the landlord or the apartment manager for the expenses such as a security deposit or first months rent, then Spokane County agencies can sometimes help with this. They will use federal government grant programs, such as ESG, to pay for rental or utility deposits, costs to move, and maybe even some basic furniture, such as a bed or free crib for a child.
For more information, residents that need eviction help or information on locating a new home or apartment can dial 509-325-5005 for an assessment. Even the homeless or families living in poverty can be placed into interim housing, if they qualify. It is suggested to make an appointment to apply.
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