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City of Spokane submits proposal to move individuals living at homeless camp near I-90 and Freya

The proposal was submitted to the Department of Commerce. The City says they expect that movement of individuals would occur over the next two months.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The City of Spokane announced it has submitted a proposal for moving individuals living at the homeless camp near I-90 and Freya into "safer, healthier and more humane spaces."

According to a press release, the plan requires $24 million for numerous community service providers to add more than 650 total indoor spaces with more than half of them being permanent.

Spokane and four other communities are eligible to receive a total of $144 million in "Rights of Way" funding statewide. The plan must be submitted within 30 days to be eligible, city administration says.

“We relied on previous collaborations and plans already in place to grow and build new partnerships that will move individuals from an inhumane outdoor environment into safe and healthy spaces,” Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward said in a statement. “Working together, we came up with a very solid, comprehensive plan in a very short amount of time.” 

According to the city, the full request, which was submitted to the Department of Commerce Thursday, seeks funds to "house individuals indoors with on-site wrap-around services."

Those services include temporary, transitional and permanent housing options by:

  • Making additional improvements to the Trent shelter to build permanent showers, restrooms, laundry facilities and smaller communal living pods 
  • Enhancing 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
  • Adding navigation, diversion, and family reunification resources
  • Establishing dedicated transportation for access to services and employment
  • Adding two more case workers to Community Court for service connectivity, which can be accessed without justice involvement and one case manager for existing shelters
  • Purchasing and rehabilitating existing buildings for affordable housing alternatives, including up to 110 individuals in a former motel
  • Creating additional permanent housing, development assistance to create permanent affordable housing
  • Providing rental assistance for individuals and families with working RVs to use existing locations

“It was critically important that we direct as much resource as possible to permanent housing,” Woodward said. “Emergency shelters meet an immediate need, but the long-term solution is more permanent housing.” 

Spokane County leaders, along with officials from the City of Spokane and Spokane Valley, met over the past four weeks to discuss essential priorities and ideas for the proposal.

July 21 marked the deadline to submit the plan to Commerce. According to the City, the proposal includes additional ideas for further development beyond the $24.3 million allocated for Spokane should additional funding become available. The City says a deadline has not yet been established for reviewing and approving the plan. Significant action from commerce is expected by the beginning of August, according to the city.

“The commerce funds give us a unique opportunity to provide our houseless residents with beds, doors for privacy and security, bathrooms with running water and comprehensive services that will support their transition into permanent housing,” Spokane City Council President Breean Beggs said. “For too long the lack of financial resources and political will has led too many of us to accept less than the basics of human dignity, and the collaboration between the Mayor and Council will propel our entire community forward.” 

“The City’s allocation of this funding is contingent on providing housing solutions that the residents of Camp Hope will actually use,” said Council Member Lori Kinnear. “These solutions will need to include offering safe RV parking, pallet shelter opportunities and other tiered levels of low-barrier transitional shelter space in areas outside the downtown core and in many cases outside the city limits. Commerce wants to see their funding used for these kinds of innovatdcive solutions because they work.”

Next Monday, July 25, Spokane City Council is expected to consider the contract from the Trent shelter operator. That shelter is expected to open in August, city administration says.

Ultimately, the proposal to Commerce seeks funding for additional improvements based on feedback from campers on the State Department of Transportation property. The city says the 60 pallet structures could accommodate up to 120 individuals while the communal living pods would maintain support structures established through relationships with other campers.

“Our goal is to meet the campers where they are at in their individual journeys by providing services that help them take their next safe, healthy and humane steps toward exiting homelessness,” Woodward said.  

The city says they expect that movement of individuals would occur over the next two months.

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