October 24, 2019

Meeting With Spokane City Council

On Thursday, October 24th, 2019, representatives from YWCA Spokane had the opportunity to meet with members of the Spokane City Council to discuss our longtime partnership with the City, the current overwhelming issue of family violence and trauma within Spokane, and YWCA Spokane’s vital programs and services.

It is absolutely vital that the decision-makers of our city understand the complexity of domestic violence issues and the work that the YWCA does to provide relief and prevention. Having the YWCA come to one of our study sessions helped bridge the gap between this vital service in our city and the people who help write the budget.” – Kate Burke, Spokane City Council Member & YWCA Spokane Board Member

A Discussion About The Overwhelming Need For Vital Services

Regina Malveaux, YWCA Spokane CEO, Catherine Kashork, 2019 YWCA Spokane Board Chair, Jennifer Haynes, YWCA Spokane Director of Housing, and Morgan Colburn, YWCA Spokane Director of Counseling, Advocacy and Outreach, addressed members of the City Council during their recent study session to help dispel some misconceptions about our work.

A critical question was addressed that sometimes arises when providing shelter services to survivors of intimate partner violence. Are we turning people away from our shelter? The short answer is yes, we refer people to alternative resources and sheltering options as there is a greater demand for services then what our capacity can accommodate.

The increased need of services for victims of intimate partner violence and the challenges of unpredictable financial support means that, despite our best efforts, we cannot always meet the needs of our community. Last year, our safe shelter served 460 survivors and their children and answered 4,097 crisis line calls. That is an average of 38 families each month served at our shelter and 341 calls for help addressed each month.

In 2018, YWCA Spokane received 1,410 phone calls from law enforcement who followed the Lethality Assessment Protocol (LAP). LAP evaluates the lethality of the relationship while on a law enforcement call. If a victim yields results that indicate the relationship could be lethal, they are connected to a YWCA Spokane advocate by a police officer through our 24hr confidential helpline, 509-326-2255.

This protocol ensures that survivors at a high lethality risk are connected with our emergency shelter services immediately and to our legal advocacy team by the next business day.  This protocol was found to be tremendously successful in promptly connecting victims with meaningful services. However, it also increased YWCA Spokane’s challenge of accommodating the need for safe refuge from abusive partners.

“Turning survivors away from our sheltering services is one of the hardest things that our housing advocates experience,” shares Jennifer Haynes, YWCA Spokane Director of Housing. “Our shelter is almost always full. Prioritizing space for survivors at the highest risk who have the least amount of possible safe shelter options becomes an unavoidable requirement with our current capacity.” 

Even when our shelter has reached capacity we do our best to accommodate survivors in immediate danger who have no other safe option available by utilizing partnerships with hotels in our community. While we do receive grant funding for this need, it is rarely enough.  In the first 8 months of 2019, $45,000 was spent on hotel accommodations and transportation costs.

“This presentation by the YWCA was very informative.  It provided relevant information related to services and resources available to victims of domestic violence — women, men and children.  Most important, this discussion reinforced the need for additional community support and funding for services — as the need for these services outweighs the capacity, especially in the areas of housing and legal advocacy for victims.” – Karen Stratton, City Council Member

Thank You Spokane City Council

YWCA Spokane is incredibly grateful for the opportunity to share with the City Council the depth, value, and need for our agency’s services in Spokane.

To learn more about YWCA Spokane’s confidential safe shelter, click here.

By: Erica Schreiber

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