SPOKANE, Wash. — In July, the Spokane City Council approved a purchase agreement for a new homeless shelter on East Sprague proposed by city staff. But months later, the status of that shelter is hazy.
The proposal, a 120-bed full-service shelter in a building that formerly held a Grocery Outlet, is still on the table. But progress has slowed, and other options are being examined more intensely.
As of right now the Grocery Outlet option is by far the furthest along. The purchase agreement included a $50,000 earnest payment, and city staff are currently conducting more detailed assessment of the location.
But, the city has hit some road blocks.
One is resistance from neighbors, including nearby nonprofit Projectid. Secondly, the shelter is supposed to be operated in cooperation with Spokane County, but so far the county has been slow to get on board.
Other options are still being considered. One is the former Daybreak Youth Services building downtown. Another is the Cannon Street building that hosted an emergency warming center last winter.
But no formal proposals have been made for any location other than Grocery Outlet, and none of the other options has the capacity that location provides, which is 120 beds.
That means if the city doesn't go with Grocery Outlet, they'll likely need to purchase multiple smaller shelters to maintain that 120-bed goal.
Several city council members have expressed frustration about the lack of progress.
This time last year, they had hoped to open a new shelter in July 2019, and then that was pushed back to sometime this fall.
The city says a fall opening is still possible.
But council members are worried that without rapid progress from city staff, there won't be enough full service shelter spaces come wintertime.
That would mean the return of emergency warming centers. And, because of a court ruling, it could make it impossible to enforce the no-sit no-lie ordinance.
Regarding the $50,000 earnest payment, if the city pulls out of the Grocery Outlet plan, whether or not they get that money back depends on meeting various stipulations in the purchase agreement. Basically, if the reason for backing out is included in that agreement, the city is likely to get the earnest payment refunded.
The following video is a report on a brick that was thrown through the window of nonprofit Projectid, which is feet away from the proposed shelter site.