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City of Spokane allocates $30K to give STA bus passes to homeless residents

An ordinance passed at a special meeting allocates $30,000 for assistance with transportation to shelters, resource centers, and community court.

Spokane City Council passed an ordinance in a special meeting on Thursday that will provide local bus passes to homeless residents.

It’s the latest action from the council to try to tackle to problems surrounding homelessness in Spokane. The special meeting focused on the issue of transportation, and help the city and various charities are providing.

"What we have heard over and over and over again is that challenge of individuals getting to warming centers, getting to resources," said Karen Stratton, one of the council members who voted for the ordinance.

The measure allocates $30,000 of city money to buying one-day passes from the Spokane Transit Authority. The city will then give those passes to various shelters and resource centers to give to people who need them, Stratton said.

“We're really hopeful that this money will help those folks that need it the most get to where they need to be," she said. "[For instance] if a person… at Goodwill who's working with a client… needs to send them to the Envision Center, they give them a pass.”

The money will not fund tickets for buses headed out of town to other cities. 

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The ordinance passed 6 to 1. The only nay vote came from councilman Mike Fagan, who had concerns that the proposal needed more vetting.

“It actually was an emergency budget ordinance that just had come together, for lack of a better term, at the last minute," he said.

Fagan said there needed to be more discussion about those who are homeless with pets and whether those pets can be brought on the bus.

"I definitely had a concern as to whether there was proper coordination and communication with STA regarding other-than-service animals being allowed on the bus," he said. 

Those who need to bring a lot of stuff with them also might have or pose challenges on the buses, Fagan added. 

"One of the things that we've been hearing from the homeless community a lot is that homeless individuals have a lot of personal property that they are carrying around,” he said. “Once again, lack of coordination and communication with STA was definitely a concern there."

Stratton said there are certainly more details to be ironed out but argues the important thing was getting the money allocated.

"This is a really good place to start,” she said.

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