‘Bridge Housing’ to be operated by The Salvation Army Spokane
Since early 2020, the word ‘Hope’ has been the theme of The Salvation Army’s outreach during the global pandemic.
On November 5, 2021, that word took on an even deeper meaning with the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the new ‘The Way Out Bridge Housing Center,’ which will open soon and be operated by The Salvation Army Spokane.
The Way Out Center is a referral-based, service-intensive program that will help up to 60 adults at any one time make the transition from the shelter system to affordable permanent housing.
The model of this new program is to empower men and women to overcome barriers to permanent housing due to mental illness, chemical addiction, multiple relapses, and what appears to be permanent homelessness. This program will hold individuals accountable for doing the work needed to move on in life.
The Bridge Housing Center has been three years in the making and will allow The Salvation Army’s guests to access a support system that includes housing, employment, addiction, behavioral health, and life skills to help them transition out of homelessness.
Speakers for the ribbon-cutting ceremony included Commissioner Doug Riley, Western Territorial Commander; Lt. Colonel Cindy Foley, Northwest Divisional Commander; Majors Ken and Jenni Perine, Spokane Citadel Corps Officers; Mayor Nadine Woodward, City of Spokane; Commissioner Mary Kuney, County of Spokane; and Kelly Ruggles, Spokane Citadel Corps Advisory Board member and former chair.
Commissioner Riley related the Spokane Corps’ call to action through The Way Out Center to that of General William Booth when he helped the vulnerable in his day when people cried out “Do Something” to rid the ills in society.
Lt. Colonel Foley expressed how happy she was about the future and how a multitude of men and women will receive life-changing services through this new program.
A peek into the future of the Bridge Housing Center was seen in a short video about a homeless man named John who is looking forward to being one of the first guests.
John, who was also present for the ceremony, first came to The Salvation Army through the former ‘The Way Out Shelter’ when it was an emergency drop-in “healthy shelter” during the pandemic. The shelter closed earlier this year so it could be remodeled to become ‘The Way Out Bridge Housing Center.’
John is now sober and wants out of the shelter system. He knows that the staff of The Salvation Army has his best interest at heart.
“They extended their hands to me and helped me when I was desperately in need of a place to stay. I’m attracted to the fact that they were able to show me that kind of love where I don’t receive that from most people out there in the streets,” he said.
Following the festivities, John told a local news reporter that he has been living on the streets since the shelter closed to help him reach his personal goal.
“I’ve actually taken to staying out on the streets to keep myself away from the drugs. The other shelters…there’s not so much structure. There’s a lot of drugs coming in and out of the shelters, and I don’t want to be around that stuff,” he said. “I quit doing everything. I quit drinking, smoking cigarettes, smoking weed. I mean, I just put them all down.”
John plans on attending welding school and is determined to move forward through the help he’ll receive at The Way Out Center.
“Bridge Housing meets an immediate need in our regional system,” Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward said in a city press release. “The program balances a measure of accountability with emersion in compassionate supports for people who are at a point in their journeys to take the steps necessary to succeed in permanent housing.”
“The Way Out Bridge Housing model fits our mission to Rescue the perishing, Renew the ability to thrive, Restore healthy community. It’s a program that is a continuation of our 130-year commitment to do the most good and make Spokane better,” said Major Ken Perine. “We are committed to rescuing the perishing by taking them from the streets to the sheets, restoring the ability for people to thrive by securing stable income and housing, and renewing healthy communities as they move forward and out of the situation that brought them to our doors.”
Bridge Housing is becoming a reality thanks to the wonderful partnership with the City of Spokane, the City of Spokane Valley, Spokane County, Avista, community stakeholders, and The Salvation Army.
“This (center) is a testament to City, County, business, and nonprofit organizations working together to meet a community need,” said Lt. Colonel Foley.