WENATCHEE — The Wenatchee City Council on Thursday approved a $15,000 grant for Powerhouse Ministries’ low-barrier homeless day shelter in East Wenatchee.
The ministry will receive $7,500 initially and the remaining $7,500 after submitting a long-term sustainability plan to the city. The money comes from local and state funding earmarked for homeless and low-income housing.
Powerhouse in November asked the Chelan-Douglas Local Homeless Housing Task Force, which Wenatchee belongs to, for three months of funding. The task force reviewed the request in December before recommending the City Council accept it.
The ministry on Valley Mall Parkway was founded by Shalom Church but lost a major source of funding after the church’s pastor retired and moved out of state.
“It’s definitely going to get the bills paid and give us a cushion for further into this year,” Powerhouse coordinator Scott Slack said of the grant. “It gives us a little breathing room.”
The ministry is working on its long-term plan and seeking new funding sources, Slack said. Still, he said, it’s in better financial shape than it was a year ago.
At Thursday’s meeting, Councilman Keith Huffaker asked why the city should focus on a day shelter instead of one open 24 hours.
“It seems like the big need would be at night when it’s so cold,” he said. “... Is this the right place to spend our money rather than looking at a facility that can house them full time?”
Community Development Director Glen DeVries said that until the city is able to open a permanent low-barrier shelter, there must be a system where day and night shelters work together. People can get food and access to service providers at day shelters, he said.
“It’s our biggest need in the homeless program,” DeVries said of a 24-hour shelter. He added: “Until we have a low-barrier shelter that provides the whole range of services, these day facilities are really important.”
The city is looking at other permanent low-barrier shelters to use as models, as well as researching funding and location options, he said.
Two churches, Holy Apostles Catholic and First United Methodist in Wenatchee, opened as severe-weather shelters last month. However, those shelters only open at night, and people using them are driven to Powerhouse and Lighthouse Christian Ministries in Wenatchee for the day.
“If need be, they contact me and I open early if they need to drop people in,” Slack said. “Especially coming up here, we’re poised and ready to receive some of their people if need be. ... We’re seeing 50-55 people come through our facility in an eight-hour period of time.”