Youth Homelessness - Anchor Community Initiative

Picture of Youth Advocacy Day

Feature Story

What started in 2017 as a 100-day challenge to house 100 youth and young adults in Spokane has now grown into a collaborative effort to end youth and young adult homelessness. During the 100-day challenge our community housed 109 youth and young adults, 43 of those housed were minors. The number of youth impacted by this effort demonstrated the need for a long-term plan.

Following the success of the 100-day challenge, Spokane County United Way started the Anchor Community Initiative (ACI) in partnership with A Way Home Washington and the City of Spokane. United Way's Anchor Community Initiative is working to reduce and end youth and young adult (ages 12-24) homelessness in Spokane County.

In 2019 ACI started by creating a By-Name list, which provides a comprehensive list of every person ages 12-24 in Spokane County who are experiencing homelessness. With an improved data collection method in place efforts focused towards partnering with the Youth Advisory Board (YAB), an advocacy group of young people with lived experience with homelessness and housing instability. The ACI and YAB worked together to identify ways to improve the programs and services for young people. As YAB says, "nothing about us, without us." Additional system changes and efforts to improve access to services has led to a major milestone for our community.

Spokane has officially produced a sustained, measurable reduction in youth and young adult homelessness. Spokane is the first community in Washington State to have a measurable reduction in active homelessness for any population and third in the nation to achieve this milestone.

United Way's Anchor community Initiative is already tackling their next goal to reduce youth and young adult homelessness by 40% by October of this year.

This work will have a lasting impact on our community.

Our Work


Anchor CommunitiesThe Anchor Community Initiative serves unaccompanied young people ages 12 - 24 who are experiencing homelessness. The Anchor Community Initiative is a project to end youth and young adult homelessness in four communities across Washington State by the end of 2022. Spokane County United Way partners with A Way Home Washington to help participating communities improve their data collection methods, advocate for legislative change, develop partnerships with systems and service providers, and implement projects that improve access to services and lead to equitable outcomes for all young people. Our approach is modeled after Built for Zero, a framework that has ended chronic and veteran homelessness in communities across the country.


Our Vision

Anchor Community Initiative Three Phase OutlineYes to Yes

Our goal is to increase communities' capacity so when a young person says "Yes, I need help" a community can say "Yes, we can help."

Ending Inequity

Young people of color and those who identify as LGBTQ+ experience homelessness at higher rates than their white, straight, cisgender peers. They also return to homelessness at higher rates and experience homelessness for longer periods of time. Anchor Communities will measure these young people's outcomes and implement projects to reduce and eliminate these disparities.

Resources for Homeless Youth and Young Adults

Young Adult Shelter at Women's Hearth: 920 W. 2nd Ave.

  • Open nightly 7:00 PM to 8:00 AM
  • 18 -24 years old
  • First come, first serve
  • Couples welcome
  • All genders / identities welcome
  • 15 bed capacity