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Regional News

Spokane Council Votes To Buy Building For New Shelter

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The Spokane City Council has voted to begin the process of buying an east Spokane grocery store to remodel as a new shelter. It’s a place where the city hopes to provide services to childless couples who are homeless.
 
Mayor David Condon says the building in the 42-hundred block of East Sprague will fit well into a regional strategy to combat homelessness.

“So it’s right at the edge of the city, but right in the core of the urban portion of our county," Condon said. "We’ll serve not only Spokane but also those who are experiencing homelessness in Spokane Valley and other places.”

The council agreed to spend $50,000 to begin the process of purchasing the building from the Hutton Settlement. If the city is satisfied after doing its due diligence, the sale will go through and the city will remodel the facility. If not, city officials say they’ll get their money back.

The new shelter is projected to provide the city another 120 temporary beds. The city is looking for an organization to run it.

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Rick Pisani from the Project ID board of directors said the proposed new shelter would have a negative effect on his organization.

The proposal is not popular with advocates of Project ID. That’s an organization that serves intellectually and developmentally disabled adults and operates its own facility near the proposed shelter.

Lisa Pisani is the president of Project ID’s board of directors. She says she’s disappointed the city failed to check out the neighborhood as it zeroed in on the former grocery store. She worries that people who will be drawn to the shelter will prey on Project ID’s clients and make an already tenuous neighborhood even more dangerous.

“Daily, we have prostitution in our parking lot. We have drug deals going on. We have people tweaking out in our alcoves there that we have to take away. We’re picking up needles, syringes. We have in our flower pots and stuff that we want to build gardens in, I’m sorry, they crap in them,” Pisani said.

She says she doesn’t trust the city when it says it will provide security to police the site.

In addition to the shelter proposal, the council agreed to pull $200,000 from city reserves as an emergency measure to partially fund three agencies that help single women and families. All had lost funding. This is council president Ben Stuckart.

“The House of Charity provides 50 slots for women at night and then the Women’s Hearth is open; they’ve expanded their hours on the weekend," Stuckart said. "And then the Family Promise, this gets them to 60 capacity and puts 20 toward the Women’s Hearth for daytime capacity for single women.”

The council also voted to accept $2 million in homeless program grant funds from Spokane County.