By the staff at Family Promise of Spokane
Sponsored content provided by Comcast
A little known organization called Family Promise of Spokane (FPS) is making a huge impact on homelessness for families with children. Despite receiving only 2% of available government funding for homeless services in 2022, the organization served nearly 18% of the homeless population and had tremendous success at getting families back into permanent housing in Spokane County.
In fact, 42% of all people experiencing homelessness rehoused from a shelter in Spokane County came through Family Promise of Spokane in 2022. According to Executive Director Joe Ader, this success is not an accident. “We are just scratching the surface of what is possible,” Ader says. “We focus on our families and our kids, regardless of the political noise around homelessness, and make data-informed decisions to continually innovate and improve our results.”
Innovation is a key differentiator when it comes to Family Promise of Spokane. Founded in 1997, FPS has always marched to the beat of a different drum in the homeless system. Originally, they piloted a model of housing homeless families with children in under-utilized church buildings at night, relying on church volunteers as overnight hosts. In 2016, they expanded to offer the only walk-in emergency shelter specifically designed for families with children in Spokane County. They were the first shelter provider to offer rental assistance in order to prevent more families from becoming homeless and needing shelter services. They also offer two years of stabilization case management support for families that have moved from homelessness into housing of their own.
Slightly grinning and rubbing his hands together like a mad scientist, Ader goes on, “The next phase of innovation will be the most important yet.” He shows a series of charts displaying how the organization has developed a sophisticated predictive analytic computer model that can predict the housing outcomes of homeless families with 87% accuracy. Using historical data, the system helps identify which factors allowed some families to successfully regain housing and which factors are missing from those that did not. Ader puts it this way, “Amazon uses technology to predict what product you might want to buy next, Facebook does the same thing to show you ads, so why can’t that same type of technology be used to help solve homelessness?” Family Promise of Spokane’s mission statement - to equip families and communities to end the cycle of homelessness - is slowly becoming reality with innovations like this.
“This type of innovation,” Ader goes on, “is not the type of thing that can be funded by traditional government sources. While government funding is important to keep the emergency shelter open, only 31% of our funding comes from government sources, down from 50% in 2017.”
“Innovation that thinks outside the box when it comes to homelessness must come from private and corporate donors,” Ader says. One such donor is Comcast, who, over the past several years, invests $25,000 per year into technology and digital accessibility efforts at Family Promise of Spokane. “Corporate and private donors like Comcast are not only key to innovation, but are the key for us to have the diversified funding sources needed to weather uncertain economic times and changing political winds,” Ader says. “We are excited about our ongoing efforts to innovate better ways to end homelessness and excited about partners like Comcast that help us make that happen.”
If you would like to support the work of Family Promise of Spokane and help end homelessness for families with children, visit their website at www.familypromiseofspokane.org to learn more about how you can get involved. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of those who are struggling to get by and build a brighter future for all.