On Tuesday, U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers toured two Spokane community resources aimed at addressing major health challenges facing the region: homelessness and the opioid epidemic.
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In the morning, U.S. HUD Secretary Ben Carson joined McMorris Rodgers on a tour of Spokane’s EnVision Center. The center, located just east of downtown Spokane, is designed to bring public and private resources together into a centralized hub to connect individuals with wraparound services such as housing support and health care.
The EnVision Center demonstration was developed through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide access to support services for HUD-assisted families. The centers are centered around four pillars – economic empowerment, educational advancement, health and wellness, and character and leadership.
Spokane’s center opened in April of this year and has already served over 300 people and helped several secure jobs. The center currently works with over 20 partners providing individuals and families with housing assistance, therapy, mental health screenings, and legal and educational services.
“This is a wonderful endeavor here that has shown what can happen when a lot of people come together and work together for the good of the community,” said Carson after the tour. “I think Spokane is helping to forge a pathway for a lot of other places around the country.”
Prior to the tour, Carson and McMorris Rodgers participated in a closed-door roundtable discussion, where Carson says the key message coming out of that conversation was “unity” and working together to collaborate on solutions.
Rep. McMorris Rodgers expressed her thanks to all involved in the EnVision Center.
“I’m just so proud of this community, the leaders, and the partners from a whole host of organizations that have come together [and] are working together to help some of the most vulnerable in our community — those that are in a difficult situation get back up on their feet and find housing, find employment, and find the services that they need so that they can be self-sufficient.”
Spokane is one of 18 EnVision Centers across the country. This fall, HUD plans to announce the next round of centers.
Carson described Spokane’s center as “outstanding” and says it will serve as a best practice model for other areas.
McMorris Rodgers then visited and toured Spokane’s E. Francis Ideal Option office in the afternoon. Ideal Option provides medication-assisted treatment (MAT), along with other holistic services, for individuals with opioid use disorder. Ideal Option has a network of 8 outpatient clinics — in Spokane, Spokane Valley, Walla Walla, Pullman, and Clarkston — to serve residents of McMorris Rodgers’ congressional district (WA-5).
According to Ideal Option, there are 6,300 Spokane County adults who use opioids to get high every month, and 87% of individuals in the 5th Congressional District are not getting needed addiction treatment.
As with the EnVision Center, the Ideal Option tour and roundtable discussion focused on building collaborations to better serve the community.
“The Federal government, Congress, has passed a lot of laws and a lot of funding right now to put toward [the opioid epidemic]. But as far as what’s going on on the ground, there’s still work to be done on promoting the programs that are actually getting results and making sure that we’re coordinated,” said McMorris Rodgers during the discussion.
Lane Savitch, Vice President of Community Development at Ideal Option, agreed.
“That’s the key. The coordination always seems to be lacking. There’s a lot of money going here, and there’s a lot of money going there, a lot of money going lots of different places,” said Savitch.
McMorris Rodgers and members of the leadership team at Ideal Option discussed ways to work together to support veterans, the jail population, and the use of MAT.
“What I saw today, I believe that this is part of the solution. We’re seeing impressive results,” said McMorris Rodgers.
This article is cross-posted on our sister site, State of Reform.