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Spokane submits shelter, homeless grant proposal to state of Washington

Courtesy of Spokane County
The building that the city of Spokane is renovating to house and serve people who are homeless

The plan asks the state for more than $24 million for a variety of housing and social service measures.

The city of Spokane says local governments and social service providers have developed a plan to move people living in the Camp Hope homeless encampment in east Spokane into other living arrangements.

The group hopes to access more than $24 million from the state Department of Commerce to develop new shelter spaces for more than 650 people and provide services for the people who live in those spaces. The city says the group has asked the state for up to 30% of the money to begin its work.

City officials say the proposal, which was submitted to the Washington Department of Commerce on Thursday, includes remodeling of a building on Trent Avenue into a shelter space, including permanent showers, restrooms, laundry and small communal living pods.

The full request, which was submitted to the state on Thursday, seeks funds to immediately house people indoors with onsite wrap-around services including temporary, transitional, and permanent housing options. Other aspects of the proposal, as listed in a city press release:

• Enhance assessment tools to know individuals by name and need, which is seen as the most critical precursor step to building trust and matching an individual with the best housing solution

• Add navigation, diversion, and family reunification resources

• Establish dedicated transportation for access to services and employment

• Add two more case workers to Community Court for service connectivity, which can be accessed without justice involvement, and one case manager for existing shelters

• Purchase and rehabilitate existing buildings for affordable housing alternatives, including up to 110 individuals in a former motel

• Create additional permanent housing, development assistance to create permanent affordable housing

• Provide rental assistance for individuals and families with working RVs to use existing locations

Councilwoman Lori Kinnear says the intent is to also provide space for RV parking, places where pallet shelters might be built and other innovative ideas.

On Thursday, Governor Jay Inslee said the state will continue to work with Spokane to develop some of those ideas. He says the challenge is in creating enough housing to accommodate the people who need it.

“From tiny home villages to hotels to existing low-income housing and eventually into permanent housing, which, fortunately, we’ve had almost $900 million appropriated this year, the biggest in Washington state history so we can build more housing,” he said.

Inslee says the Camp Hope migration is part of a statewide push to remove people living along state rights-of-way, most in Puget Sound-area counties. He says it will be a long-term effort that is only getting started.

“We’re going to need the legislature next year to step up to the plate to remove some of the restrictions that are presently stopping us from building housing for these folks. We have zoning laws in our state that make it impossible for us to build enough housing for people and what do you get? You get a housing and homelessness crisis,” he said.

The city council is expected to decide Monday which provider will operate the East Trent shelter. It has already approved the lease and correct zoning for the shelter. Remodeling work has begun. The shelter is expected to open in August.

Doug Nadvornick has spent most of his 30+-year radio career at Spokane Public Radio and filled a variety of positions. He is currently the program director and news director. Through the years, he has also been the local Morning Edition and All Things Considered host (not at the same time). He served as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network, based in Coeur d’Alene. He created the original program grid for KSFC. He has also served for several years as a board member for Public Media Journalists Association. During his years away from SPR, he worked at The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Washington State University in Spokane and KXLY Radio.