x
Breaking News
More () »

Neighborhood, Housing and Human services director reflects on time in Spokane ahead of last day

John Hall spoke exclusively with KREM 2 about his time with the city and his next steps in his new position.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane's Director of Neighborhood, Housing and Human Services (NHHS) John Hall announced his resignation Wednesday. His resignation comes approximately three months after he was appointed to the position by Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward. 

Hall let the city know he accepted another position on the East Coast, according to Spokane city spokesperson Brian Coddington.

On Thursday, Hall spoke exclusively with KREM 2 about his time with the city and his next steps in his new position.

Channing Curtis

So, John, you announced your resignation, or your resignation was announced yesterday. It seemed a little sudden to a lot of people, especially those of us in the media. Was it actually a sudden move, or was it something that you've been thinking about for a while?

John Hall

Well, I'm not sure how you want to define it as sudden or not, but I had been looking for a job just basically this whole year, and I accepted this position. And I was, you know, 100% committed. I did have some residual applications that actually go all the way back to January that I started hearing from in August. And so I, you know, listened. And as I was working through and adjusting here in Spokane, and so when I had my self inventory, at the end of the day, I decided it would probably be in the best interest for my career. The opportunity to actually start a new department, set the office culture, do most of the recruitment that for staff, it would be an easier lift in a leadership capacity to get things done.

Channing Curtis

And now, your predecessor also wasn't here for a very long amount of time. Is that something that you're aware of? Are you aware of that situation at all?

John Hall

When I did my research before I took the position, I read a couple of articles, but I don't see our scenarios, our dilemmas being in the same. I'm basically given an opportunity for my career to start a new agency, and I am choosing to take that opportunity.

Channing Curtis

So then to be clear, the allegations that your predecessor made regarding racial discrimination and unfair treatment, that's not what you're saying, in this case?

John Hall

That has not been my experience here at all. Mayor Woodward and her entire team have been welcoming, they've been more than nice. And actually, the citizens of Spokane, nearly everyone has been nice. And that's what made the decision a little bit more difficult because so many people have been nice. For me, it came down to, you know, the opportunity to start something new. I could stay here and reform agencies, I have the mental toughness to do that. But what I didn't have to do here is the political capital. And so I think it would be in my better interest to start something fresh and new and chart its own course.

Channing Curtis

Would there have been anything that the city could have done to make you stay?

John Hall

Well, I don't think so because the opportunity... it was timing. The opportunity to actually, I'm not sure how well your viewers follow affordable housing and community development, but it's very difficult. Change, management is very difficult. And so to have the opportunity to start something new and fresh with a lot of those challenges and barriers. Not to say that they won't be there, but that you can get more things done, than the stalemate that happens in most places. And so for me that that's what it came down to.

Channing Curtis

And I mean, exactly to that point here. Affordable housing seems to be it's a very, not necessarily partisan, but it does seem to be a very contentious issue with a lot of the people here in the community, with many people saying that they don't want it or that they don't want homeless shelters in their area. Is that one of the challenges that impacted, say, your decision to take this other position is some of the difficulties that maybe you face?

John Hall

The short answer is no. I definitely was looking forward and was already working with a lot of the neighborhood associations and councils participated and was looking forward to helping them solve the the dilemmas of the day and. I think you're referencing West Hills neighborhood. I had participated with them in August. I went on a tour and was trying to you know, find ways to live in harmony or create, you know, equitable treatment for West Hills. And so I'm a reformer, I love challenges. The thing about it was just the timing of my job search this whole entire year. It just came that this opportunity starts at a department anew, it puts me back in a network that I'm familiar with, and I just didn't have the political capital here. And I had to make that the decision that I want to actually try to build that political capital, knowing the changes that needed to be made. And for me, it was, it was just a decision I made to go with something new, a new agency.

Channing Curtis

In referencing some of those changes that need to be made, what do you think are some of the changes that, whether it's a city thing, whether it is even the community at large, that needs to change in order for us to move forward and to start solving some of these problems that we're having?

John Hall

Well, I'm in no position, you know, to have, you know, the magic crystal ball. But I will be putting together some observations, but some of the things that I think are things that any city should look at is, of course, collaboration, regional approach. Collaboration builds institutional capacity, so it makes things stick so that when administrations change, the good work can still stay intact. And so collaboration is key in keeping everybody at the table. I know there have been conversations as late as yesterday, for example, with the Washington Department of Transportation right away site. And I'm encouraged by that, because as long as we are at the table, everyone is at the table, sooner or later something will get hammered out. And that's community development. It's slow, it's very slow, and to look at the state of homelessness across the country, and here specifically, it didn't get this way overnight. This homelessness issue has been growing since probably the 1970s when housing funding was significantly cut. And it has always been cut. We had a previous administration that zeroed out HUDs budgets. And so when you have policies that are trying to get in place like that, you don't have sustainable funding for programs that are needed for housing stability. At the same time, we also need to do a better job helping our neighbors and our fellow citizens, leverage programs that are available, whether it's job training, education, things of that nature, that help with self sufficiency. And so we, in the housing arena, we have a lot of those tools and we just need to bundle those resources to yield greater productivity and output for citizens, which will in turn, help stabilize our communities, and also build our economic strength.

Channing Curtis

Now, I have to admit the optics aren't great. I mean, you're leaving after three months. Your predecessor also left rather suddenly and, for lack of a better term, just in a firestorm. It seems like one of the one of the lines that stuck out to me was, and I'm not sure if it was from a statement or where it was from but saying it was something regarding your treatment here. Can you talk about that or elaborate some on that? 

John Hall

I'm not exactly sure what he may have been referencing. I actually, I spoke to Council President Beggs in June as part of my interview. We had a very good, or I would actually say a great conversation. I was excited to get here and to meet them. It was virtual. So I was still in Indianapolis at the time. But since then, I have not met with Council President Beggs. I have spoken to him from the Dyess presentations and exchanged emails on various topics. But so I'm not sure exactly the context or the other connotation. What I will tell you, in my own words, is that, you know, I am grateful for the opportunity to be here and to work with everyone. Did I have some bad days? Yes. Did I have some challenges adjusting? Yes. Was the culture different? Yes. But it's like that everywhere. As I had the opportunity to come in August, and I had more than one, I had three. And as I analyze those, you know, do I stay? Or do I go? I had to do my own self inventory and figure out, you know, here, I'm an outsider, I don't have the political capital, meaning I don't have the relationships, I'm not local. Do I want to be here to build those relationships, to fight those battles to ensure I have support, meaning for change management, things that have to get done, those heavy decisions that will become institutionalized. And I'm not talking about the mayor or the executive side. I'm talking about the legislative side, the community side, I'm talking about everyone. So I had to take those things into consideration for myself. I know you did your research on me. And so I'm sure you know that I have been shell shocked, traumatized from Tacoma to Indianapolis. And for me, it was like, how deep do I want to go with this opportunity? In my observations of knowing that things that needed to change. And so I thought for the sake of my career, and my sanity, is that to start a new department, where I could set the culture, I could do most of the recruitment and I could have a little bit less stress. That's my story.

Channing Curtis

I can respect that. Is there anything else that you'd like to add or that you'd like to mention? Maybe clarify, while you have the time?

John Hall

I just want to express to the city. I have enjoyed my short time here. I regret if you feel that I let you down. I know a lot of people have faith in me to use my expertise and to take the city higher and I think you are still in capable hands of doing that without me. You know, I just encourage everyone to stay professional, work in a collaborative manner, stay at the table and the deals will get done. You know, and compromise is going to be needed, and fair and equitable treatment. I know there are, you know, the West Hill neighborhoods, there's the right away site, that there are a lot of points of contention throughout the city. But we are all human, and we have to come together. It's as simple as that. We've got to follow where the resources are, and leverage them. Again, I say bundle those resources that get the greater impact and output for the citizens. It can be done with the team that's here. And so don't feel that I was the only hope that the city had because one person can't do it all. It takes a team, it takes collaboration to make things work. So I would just encourage your viewers to be engaged, but also to allow, you know, the mayor and the city staff to do their jobs. For the most part, they know exactly what needs to be done and how it should be. And if, you know, the public doesn't believe that or see the results, then hold us all accountable. That's part of our our great government system. And so those are the things I would like to just leave with the city. And I'll be watching the great things that you do, because I know there are great things coming out of Spokane.

KREM ON SOCIAL MEDIA:Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

DOWNLOAD THE KREM SMARTPHONE APP 
DOWNLOAD FOR IPHONE HERE | DOWNLOAD FOR ANDROID HERE

HOW TO ADD THE KREM+ APP TO YOUR STREAMING DEVICE 

ROKU: add the channel from the ROKU store or by searching for KREM in the Channel Store.

Fire TV: search for "KREM" to find the free app to add to your account. Another option for Fire TV is to have the app delivered directly to your Fire TV through Amazon.

To report a typo or grammatical error, please email webspokane@krem.com

Paid Advertisement

Before You Leave, Check This Out