City finalizing lease for shelter in Northeast Spokane industrial area
Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward is negotiating a lease for a city-funded homeless shelter in a warehouse in the Northeast part of the city. The site would provide a safe bed for the city’s homeless residents to escape extreme cold and heat, and provide refuge from poor air quality.
Woodward’s proposed shelter is a 33,000 square foot building near Spokane Community College and the Spokane County Fairgrounds. According to the mayor’s office, the city scouted about 100-sites before finding this one, and is close to finalizing a lease and finding someone to run the shelter.
In an interview Tuesday, Woodward said she’s addressed many of the concerns raised by earlier proposals. The building is on a transit line and the city will provide additional shuttles. Social services will also be available on site, she says facilitated by the provider, with assistance from the city.
The mayor says she’s also hoping to separate the building to allow couples to stay together, and women who prefer to not share a large space with men to have a section.
“I think there's enough flexibility within this 33,000 square foot facility that we can accomplish that," she said.
Once Woodward finalizes a lease, the city council will need to approve it, along with a temporary change to the city’s zoning code.
Spokane City Council President Breean Beggs says he is planning to support the zoning changes, and the site. But he says he still has questions about the proposal, and says several shelters are needed to address the growing number of unsheltered people in Spokane.
“The critique potentially is having so many people in one space, and location, and I would just say that its better than not having those spaces, but its only part of the solution,” he said. “I think we also have to have more spaces than that particular shelter and we have to have a greater variety of spaces, including spaces that are more spread out.”
Woodward says she does have another proposal in the works.
“We are also working on a more permanent long-term plan for housing at the low-barrier and higher barrier level with a provider,” she said, “it’s an ongoing conversation, nothing we can really reveal right now, but it would be a more permanent location and set up. It would actually be a village, a number of different shelters outside of the downtown core.
The city council is scheduled to consider the zoning change, and review a potential service provider, on Monday.