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New program launching to relocate unhoused in Spokane to homes of friends and family in other cities

Spokane County is launching a pilot program to help people who are homeless return to their friends or families in other cities.

According to data from the most recent annual census of homelessness in Spokane County, about a quarter of unsheltered people are not from Spokane. Many are from other cities in Washington, or grew up in Idaho, Montana or Colorado.

A new program launching in Spokane on Friday aims to help that population move in with friends and families in the communities they are from.

The program is a county-funded pilot project called the Homeward Bound and is managed by Volunteers of America. Rae-Lynn Barden, Communications Director for the organization, said the goal is to reduce homelessness by returning people to where they have community connections.

“Family reunification and relocation can play a pivotal role in that depending on someone's situation, so these funds will be able to reunite someone who has stable housing outside of the Spokane community,” she said.

The funds would be used to buy a plane or train ticket for a person experiencing homelessness.

In addition to housing and a family, or friend connected, she said they will also make sure there’s services anyone they are relocating is connected with before they move.

Barden said the $20,000 pilot effort should be enough to relocate around 20 people. To qualify, a person must be homeless and have a case worker.