Spokane Resource Center offers different areas to meet needs.
Instead of needing multiple bus passes to go to several agencies for employment, health care, food, housing and other services, people can now go to one place to meet with representatives of those agencies.
The Spokane Resource Center, a one-stop location for people to access multiple services in a single visit, opened April 15 in the 20,000-square-foot second floor of WorkSource at 130 S. Arthur.
The center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
It is one of 17 HUD EnVision Center Demonstration sites in the nation. The four emphases of EnVision Centers are economic empowerment, character and leadership, educational advancement and health/wellness.
Tim Sigler, senior manager of the city's Community Housing and Human Services (CHHS) Department, said the idea has been around for many years with several systems that include criminal justice, homeless services and other social services agencies that work with underserved populations.
The center brings together local social services in a shared office to enable collaboration to assist people in stepping out of crises and to prevent them from falling into struggles with unemployment, hunger, mental health, addiction, homelessness or crime.
"The Spokane Resource Center provides diversion before people enter the criminal justice system or are homeless," Tim said. "They need intervention before they are in a crisis, need to go to the emergency room for issues that are not best resolved in an ER, or are arrested. Many people face a vast number of barriers to reaching their personal and professional potential.
"Looking at dynamics in the criminal justice system, the Spokane Regional Criminal Justice Commission created a 'Blueprint for Reform' to look at deficiencies and identify people involved with the criminal justice system," he said. "The report recommends offering better access to social services by co-locating agencies. The Spokane Resource Center does just that."
A pilot project was proposed two years ago, but there was no money or space, said Tim, who has been with the city for five years.
Previously he was a county probation officer for four years, a city probation officer for four years, then city probation supervisor.
In 2007 and 2011, Tim earned bachelor's and master's degrees in social work at Eastern Washington University. He volunteered with Spokane County Veterans' Court, where he was eventually employed. With a team, he developed a model for offering community services in one place, which is nationally recognized and is now the Spokane Veterans Forum.
The city is leasing the space at WorkSource for two years. It has $150,000 in Community Development block grants to operate it, and for equipment and supplies.
At first, they looked just at the large open room, but then decided to lease the full second floor. The open space is furnished with office equipment donated by Northwest Farm Credit Services and other local businesses.
Tim said the main room has "neighborhoods"—areas for different types of agencies. Signs hanging from the ceiling say: housing, pre-employment, health and wellness, peer support, education and workshops, benefits/basic needs and justice.
• Housing includes housing assessments, energy assistance, rental help, dispute resolution and tenant education.
• Pre-employment includes training, job readiness and social skill-building.
• Under health and wellness, CHAS and other health care agencies will schedule appointments, help people apply for insurance, offer health care assistance, counseling, crisis intervention, behavioral and mental health screenings and refer people for treatment.
• Peer support includes certified peer counselors, mentoring, sober coaching, advocacy and networking.
• Education includes parenting classes, financial and credit counseling, computer skills and tenant education.
• Benefits/basic needs addresses reinstating or increasing veterans' benefits, support access for and recovery of SSI/SSDI support.
• Justice includes legal assistance for tenants; clinics on rental, housing and employment rights; post-conviction matters; reentry services, and legal advocacy.
Agencies will sign up to send representatives at certain times and days, on schedules based on client needs and appointments.
"Over the year, we will see if we need all partners here all the time," Tim said. "We will review what services are being used most and what services we lack. Then we will reach out to other providers to partner with us."
The Spokane Workforce Council secured funding to support site management and operations, and contracted with Career Path Services to hire Jen Morris to connect service providers, arrange the schedule and plan training.
Jen, who has worked as site manager with Career Path Services for 10 years, came to Spokane three years ago. She has run Resources to Initiate Successful Employment under DSHS through the Department of Agriculture in Spokane, King and Pierce counties.
In 2001, she earned a bachelor's in sociology and social services from Central Washington University and a 2009 master's in education from Northern Arizona University.
"I love the collaboration here. When I was a case manager, I dreamed of everyone coming to one place and having multiple programs meet all their needs," she said. "It's important to bridge programs, rather than have them work in silos. Being together here they collaborate to help people.
"There are so many resources and there is so much knowledge. If one agency does not have an idea or answer, another will," Jen said.
"While providers often compete for funds, at the Spokane Resource Center they will learn what each does and be able to make referrals," said Tim, who expects barriers will break down. "Providers will train each other, learn the same lingo and be a team."
The Spokane Resource Center plans to add a clothing closet, a food closet and hygiene cabinet.
There is also a plan to have a room for supervised play, which the center hopes will be run by volunteers so children are occupied when parents discuss needs and barriers to supporting their success that they might not share if their child is sitting next to them.
The Spokane Arts Commission has filled the walls with local artists' works to add color and introduce the artists.
There is also a Multicultural Center to focus on race, gender, ethnicity and interfaith issues.
One of two classrooms is for the center's use and one for community use to host events, discussions and workshops. WorkSource will teach classes on job readiness. Agencies may teach classes or have events there.
In the Financial Stability Center, people can learn about budgeting, credit, home ownership or even just how to open a bank account.
In an employee break room, agency staff can converse and have monthly training sessions. For example, Kurtis Robinson, NAACP Spokane president, and Carmen Pacheo-Jones, chair of the SRLJC's Racial Equity Committee, will offer implicit bias training.
"Our goal is to serve the community by supporting innovative projects like this," Tim said. "CHHS invests nearly $15 million for support services and capital investments each year."
Among the partners along with the Spokane Workforce Council and the city are Spokane Housing Authority, Career Path Services, SNAP, The Arc of Spokane, Goodwill, Catholic Charities, Compass Career Solutions, Center for Justice, Frontier Behavioral Health, CHAS, Pioneer Human Services, Revive Reentry Services, Partners with Families and Children, World Relief and the Tenants Union.
For information, call 867-8189.
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, May, 2019