Breaking News
More () »

Mayor Woodward announces new homeless shelter, public safety initiatives during State of the City address

Mayor Woodward announced that Catholic Charities will relocate House of Charity outside of downtown Spokane and build a new low-barrier shelter.

SPOKANE, Wash. — During her 2022 State of the City address, Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward announced new public safety initiatives, new mental health resources to aid in the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the relocation and expansion of a downtown homeless shelter.

Woodward began her address by discussing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which began shortly after she took office in 2020. This is the only the second time the mayor has delivered the State of the City address in person.

At the height of the pandemic, Woodward said the city learned how to better collaborate and share information in new ways. It was this collaboration that she says inspired new community initiatives concentrated on her four main focuses: public safety, homelessness, economic development and housing.

"After working closely with many community partners, we'll announce new initiatives that will restore the vibrancy, vitality, and resiliency to a community at the center of a regional ecosystem," Woodward said.

In addition to the four main areas of focus, Woodward said mental health and operational stability will be factors in all four areas. 

During a previous roundtable discussion, Woodward said she was told that the city would spend years undoing the mental health impact of the pandemic on Spokane's children. She said that statement stuck with her and encouraged her to do something.

Mental health is the underlying foundation of everything we do," she explained. "So it will be a common thing as we talk about public safety, housing, economic development, and homelessness."

While speaking about public safety, the mayor announced that SPD started a new Violent Crimes Task Force, which will address violent offenders in the community and work to eradicate violent, drug and property crime.

The task force will include two sergeants, who will serve as supervisors, and a mix of five other officers at different levels.

According to Woodward, the task force was built on learnings and successes from SPD's other specialty teams. The task force is also looking at approaches other cities have taken to quality of life crimes, such as packing multiple misdemeanor crimes into a felony charge for repeat offenders.

"These creative changes are needed," Woodward said.

Woodward also discussed the Behavioral Health Unit, a partnership between law enforcement and behavioral health specialists. According to the mayor, the unit contacted 4,090 people in crisis, a nearly 10% increase over the previous year. Of those encounters, less than 1% were arrested and more than 4,500 calls were diverted from patrol and freed up those officers to respond to other needs.

One of the major announcements from the address was that the city has formalized a partnership with Catholic Charities to relocate and expand House of Charity, a homeless shelter in downtown Spokane.

Woodward said the vision for the partnership is:

  • To move the shelter out of the downtown core
  • To increase space for women
  • To provide services that will help people experiencing homelessness become more stable and move into permanent housing
  • To offer flexibility in giving people a fresh start

The location of the new shelter will be in a different area than the drop-in shelter the city is working to finalize. Woodward said the shelter will be outside of downtown and will be part of a developing transportation loop to connect people to other shelters and services.

“The plan we’re announcing today is built on community collaboration and relies on resources from providers, nonprofits, private industry and government to further build a regional system of assets and resources that meet people with services, prevent them from becoming homeless or get them temporarily housed, and move them out of homelessness,” Woodward said.

Additional information about the new location can be found on the House of Charity website.

You can watch the address on KREM.com or on the KREM YouTube channel with the player below:

Before You Leave, Check This Out