Spokane City Council Candidate Karen Kearney Focuses On Homelessness, Housing First Policy

Apr 13, 2021

Spokane City Council Candidate Karen Kearney
Credit Courtesy of Karen Kearney

This week, we begin a series of profiles with people who have announced their candidacy for Spokane city council. We'll focus this week on the five candidates in the Northwest district, starting today with Karen Kearney.

Kearney has spent years working in banking, is a member of her neighborhood council and is a volunteer at the House of Charity. She said through her role in neighborhood projects, and volunteerism, she’s already been advocating for her district for years.

“I know the third district. I’ve interacted with its business people, I’ve gone forward and served in numerous community issues. I’ve been on boards and commissions in the city and the district. I feel like I know Spokane, I’ve lived in its past, I’m now in its present and I’m going forward into its future.”

Kearney said she was focused on homeless policy, saying the city needs to have an approach that addresses the short term need for shelter, and longer-term root causes, like a lack of mental health resources and a shortage of affordable housing.

“Housing first I think is very important to me. How do you work with somebody’s that’s trying to overcome addiction issues when they don’t have a place to go home too, a place where they can help heal. It’s real hard for that to happen.”

Kearney said the city should also look at properties that have vacant big box stores as potential places for affordable housing, saying lack of units is a barrier to addressing homelessness.

Kearney said she’s also supportive of the police, saying the area needs both more officers, and the department needs more mental health resources so they’re better equipped for those types of calls.

“I think that we’re going to need more police officers and we need to go forward with those individuals hooking up with behavioral health people that can basically make decisions at the time on an individual’s emotional stability. I think it’s a great plan to go forward with and I would encourage more funding for it.”

Kearney is running for a seat in city council district three which includes West Central, Indian Trail and the Shadle Park area. She has run for the seat at least two times before.

She is running against Lucrecia “Lu” Hill, Mike Lish, Christopher Savage and Zack Zappone. A full interview with each candidate will be posted online spokanepublicradio.org and stories with the rest of the candidates will be aired this week.

Listen to her full interview here.