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Spokane Mayoral Race: How candidates plan to tackle homelessness

Homelessness is at or near the top of a list of many issues that will dominate the conversation during the 2019 race for Spokane Mayor. It is a complex issue but there are some common threads among the candidates' platforms.

Of the many issues that will dominate the conversation during the 2019 race for mayor of Spokane, homelessness is at or near the top. 

It's a complex issue, so there are many ideas centered on how to deal with it. But there are some common threads among the candidates' platforms.

One: affordable housing and how to provide more of it.

Two: accountability, meaning making sure the money does not go to waste. 

Three: holistic service plans; finding ways to permanently get people on their feet.

Four: the "No Sit, No Lie" Ordinance.

Affordable housing

For current Spokane City Council president Ben Stuckart, the priority is addressing the root causes of homelessness. That means, for instance, providing more affordable housing.

"We need to affect both the supply side and the subsidy side," he said in an interview. "We need to build more affordable housing. But we also need to look at appropriate areas in our neighborhoods and business corridors. How do we incentivize density downtown?"

Some of his specific proposals include creating a "Housing Trust Fund" for building units and attacking abandoned homes.

Housing is also a priority for Eastern Washington graduate Chris Schroll.

Among his proposals, creating community land trusts to keep certain homes cheap.

Firefighter Shawn Poole also counts affordable housing as a key platform point.


Another key point for Poole: setting strict standards for who can get city assistance.

"What I'm advocating for is holding those people accountable," Poole said in an interview. "They need to make the choice to stay off drugs, stay off alcohol."

On his website, Poole goes as far to propose mandated drug and alcohol testing.

Businessman and former pastor Jonathan Bingle also highlights accountability, saying the city needs to distinguish between those who will benefit from help and those who may abuse it.


Another central homelessness topic: providing services to get folks back on their feet. 

Both Stuckart and Poole mention the EnVision Center as a core part of the city's approach. That's the facility, opening April 15, where numerous non-profits are operating together in one place.

Air Force veteran Andy Rathbun also alludes to that sort of cooperative, efficiency-focused effort on his platform.

Another common talking point: flexibility of services.

Both Bingle and former TV anchor Nadine Woodward have platforms centered around avoiding the perception that any one policy could solve the problem.

Woodward, for her part, has specifically said she's not proposing even one policy until she's met with more stakeholders.

Some candidates have other specific ideas around services.

Stuckart wants to expand the community court program that's designed to cut down on repeat criminal offenses.

Poole wants to explore expanding the city's involvement in drug treatment programs.

No Sit, No Lie

Finally, the No Sit, No Lie Ordinance. This makes it a misdemeanor to sit or lie down on certain downtown sidewalks or in certain doorways.

Poole said he is a strong supporter of the ordinance.

Stuckart said he wants to modify it so that offenders are sent to community court.

Schroll argues it's inhumane and unconstitutional, and wants it repealed.

See more about homelessness in Spokane: 

RELATED: Spokane group developing mobile showers for homeless residents

RELATED: Winter is over. What's next for Spokane's homeless residents?

RELATED: 'Every life matters': Homeless man in Spokane says he is begging for help

RELATED: City of Spokane allocates $30K to give STA bus passes to homeless residents

RELATED: Why Spokane’s homeless population is more visible than ever

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