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Spokane residents back tiny homes for homeless population

In tonight's city council meeting, supporters of Jewels Helping Hands made their case for hundreds of tiny homes.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Spokane City Council needs another week to decide which organization will operate a new city shelter.

Tonight, supporters of Jewels Helping Hands made their case for hundreds of tiny homes.

Council members were not ready to award a contract tonight because the committee reviewing these non-profits has not made a recommendation. A lot of people who spoke tonight want the city to take a different approach. 

They think tiny homes are the answer.

The Salvation Army and the Guardians Foundation have each submitted their own proposal to operate a homeless shelter along with Jewels Helping Hands. Only one organization will get the contract.

"Last June, the city closed 100 low barrier shelter beds and we had a law that says you are supposed to replace them immediately and we didn't and that's what evolved into Camp Hope 2, it was 100 people that could have been sheltered and of course it's turned into 300 people," Spokane City Council President Breean Beggs.

City Communications Director Brian Coddington said the 100 beds were accommodated in different locations, but never left the system.

The new Camp Hope off I-90 and Freya is home to hundreds of tents. Jewels Helping Hands is asking the city for $1 million to buy more than 120 tiny homes, known as pallet shelters.They take less than an hour to set up.

Volunteers and supporters of Jewels Helping Hands want council members to fund their proposal, and $10 million for staffing, mental health and addiction treatment that would be located on site.

"Wouldn't it be nice to go into winter not wondering where they're going to go but actually how we're going to help them."

The new Camp Hope is on property owned by the Washington Department of Transportation. Council President Beggs says new laws give WSDOT the authority to lease the land to the city and low income housing projects at a reasonable price.

"The concept of having pallet housing as one of the tools, particularly why they are appealing is that there's certain that have a mental health condition that cannot be in a crowded room with 100 other people," Beggs said. "They just cannot be, so we have to have places for all people."

Council President Beggs is confident the council will be ready to vote and award a contract during next week's meeting.

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