‘Such a blessing’: Family Promise celebrates 25 years of helping homeless families, plans to expand

SPOKANE, Wash. – For the last 25 years now, Family Promise of Spokane is opening doors and helping families get off the streets and into permanent housing.

One family includes Brianna Garza, who had a difficult year. When she was pregnant, Garza stayed in hotels for a few weeks when her housing situation didn’t turn out the way she wanted. Garza has been bouncing back and forth between family members’ homes after she had her baby, Hazel.

“It sucked a lot. I worked 40 hours a week and saved like $1,200 just to make sure I would have everything for her. It just felt like all my efforts were for nothing,” she said.

Garza ended up going to one shelter in Spokane before finding Family Promise.

She told 4 News Now it wasn’t difficult for her to ask for help. She said as a Christian, she knows it’s okay to ask for help and not be prideful.

When she found Family Promise, they referred her to their infant house, a shelter where families with babies lived. Garza stayed there from the beginning of December until just a few days ago. She found an apartment with the help of the organization.

“I did not think it’d be that fast. I had no idea,” she said. “It feels like such a blessing. It’s almost too good to be true.”

Garza is only one of many success stories for Family Promise.

When the nonprofit first started, Executive Director Joe Ader said families would stay in a network of churches, rotating to different ones.

In that first year, Ader said they helped 27 people. This past year, he said they helped 4,000 people in its programs.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to help this many families and to really be able to help kids,” Ader said.

The nonprofit is only continuing to grow, too. Ader said they’re working on remodeling the lower level of its main emergency shelter to help an additional 25 people. That shelter on Napa and Mission will eventually help a total of 95 people each night.

That’s in addition to several other smaller shelters it has sporadically through Spokane County. Family Promise has three smaller home locations to help families with specific needs including families with newborns and special needs. The nonprofit opened up a place in a Cheney neighborhood, too.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Family Promise of Spokane opens new shelter to help families with infants

The success of families finding permanent housing after staying at their shelters is high, Ader said.

He said the emergency shelter sees about a 57 percent rate of people finding permanent housing, and the smaller neighborhood locations see about 95 percent of people finding their own home afterward.

Because of that success, Ader said they plan to open a few more smaller locations in Spokane County, including in Spokane Valley and up north, possibly in Mead or Deer Park.

“We’re trying out different models, but we’re seeing which models have the best outcome. That’s really the key thing: how many people are you getting out into permanent housing,” he said.

Another win the nonprofit is seeing is that they haven’t had to turn away anyone needing to come into the emergency shelter since December 4, 2021.

“Which is amazing,” he said.

As time continues to pass, they hope to help even more families like Garza and Hazel and make sure they stay on their feet.

“I do feel like it was a gift,” Garza said of having her own apartment now.

READ: Packed In: New York Times shines light on Spokane’s housing crisis