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Spokane to receive more than $15 million for rental assistance from state, federal grants

The Spokane City Council unanimously passed the ordinances during a meeting on Monday night.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The City of Spokane will receive more than $15 million to bolster its rental assistance program funds after the city council voted unanimously to accept two grants on Monday night.

One grant, which totals $10,540,405, comes from the Washington State Department of Commerce's Treasury Rent Assistance Program 2.0. The other grant is from the United States' Department of Treasury's Treasury Emergency Rental Assistance Program 2 and totals $5,297,865. 

Councilmember Karen Stratton sponsored the ordinance that saw the council accept the grant from the state Department of Commerce. She said she is excited to add to the city's rental assistance program.

"It's money we've got to get out to the community," Stratton said. "People need the help, and I'm thankful that it's there and thankful that I can be a part of the positive process to get that money out."

The grants will help fund the already existing program for those who are behind or may fall behind on rent. Stratton said that roughly $1 million is being given out each month as part of the program. She added that the high demand for the program could be behind delays that the distribution process for the funds has experienced.

While the program has been helpful for renters and landlords, the Landlord's Association of the Inland Northwest hasn't been pleased with the process. According to Steve Corker, the director of governmental affairs for the association, it's because they feel left out.

"We want to be part of the solution in the community. We provide 97 percent of the housing, the private sector does. If we're not a part of the solution, there's not going to be one," Corker said.

Stratton said that Corker was part of a group that would meet with the council to address housing issues brought on by the pandemic. But, Stratton said the meetings stopped happening.

Going forward, Stratton wants assistance from the association.

"I totally support that because I think we need everybody working on this issue," she said. "The landlord's association is important to us because those landlords are important to us."

Stratton said that since the program funding is coming from grants, the city won't have to pay back the Department of Commerce or the United States' Department of Treasury. At the end of the day, Corker said they want a seat at the table.

"If you don't develop a regional policy, then all the issues that involve financially challenged people fall on the City of Spokane. Cities can't take that burden," Corker said.

The next steps for the city include starting the process for local groups to apply to run the program.