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Spokane council approves operator for East Trent shelter

City Cable 5 screenshot

The Guardians Foundation was chosen to provide services at the facility.

The city of Spokane’s new shelter for people who are homeless could open as soon as next week. The city council on Monday night approved a $6.6 million contract with The Guardians Foundation to provide services at the East Trent facility. Work is underway to renovate it to house about 150 people.

The vote was five-to-two. Councilwoman Lori Kinnear said she voted yes because the city needs to prepare to shelter people this winter.

“I’m confident that we, as a city, and I’m hoping, eventually, as a region, so it’s not the city of Spokane going it alone, as a region, we can combat homelessness and make this a success," she said.

The contract with The Guardians is for 16 months. Councilmember Betsy Wilkerson says she wonders what will happen after that.

“We may need to look at some kind of levy or tax. It’s just what our citizens are willing to pay for and how important it is to us as a community how we treat our sisters and brothers going forward," she said.

Councilman Zack Zappone also voted for the contract.

“I think of this opening of Trent for the next 16 months as kind of a pilot program. We can see how it’s going to be used. That’s what the other issue is. Will people actually use it? I’ve had some doubts and concerns, but if and when, hopefully, this opens up, I think there’s a lot of opportunity there," he said.

Zappone said he's concerned that people who live on the street will choose not to frequent the new facility. He invited Mayor Nadine Woodward to join him and two other community leaders, Zeke Smith from the Empire Health Foundation and Chris Patterson from the group Hello for Good, to stay three nights at the shelter to experience what it will be like for its clients.

Councilman Michael Cathcart said in a statement released after the meeting that he supports the shelter, but voted against the contract because the city can’t afford a big budgetary commitment right now. He says he’s also worried about the potential impact on the adjacent neighborhood.

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.