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Nov 11, 2022 4 min read

A New Hope for Hope House and other shelters

A New Hope for Hope House and other shelters
Help us Urban Experience Committee, you’re our only hope (Photo illustration by Luke Baumgarten)

CIVICS | After news that Hope House would close its decades-old women’s shelter, the city council appears poised to prioritize funding for existing shelters.

The biggest news in our weekly deep dive into local government happenings is a proposed Spokane City Council resolution to prioritize funding for existing homeless shelters. Earlier this week, Volunteers Of America President and CEO Fawn Schott, said that the shelter portion of Hope House would likely close without additional city funding.

That sense of impending doom was likely based on the Mayor’s budget and a memo from Community, Housing, and Human Services (CHHS) Director Jenn Cerecedes, that made it seem like existing shelter operators were going to be left fighting over scraps as the city prioritized funding for the Trent and Cannon shelters.

Now, it looks like the city council is saying not so fast. A proposed resolution on the agenda for the Urban Experience Committee pledges that the city will prioritize funding existing shelter providers in city spending and make more funding available to shelter operators. This move should stave off the closure of existing shelters while also raising questions on how the cash strapped city government can continue to pay for the Trent Shelter.

Money for shelters and more (bike paths!) will be a major topic of discussion in the city this week. But, after taking an emergency action to approve money to help the city expand the Trent Shelter this week, the Spokane County Board of Commissioners is off this week.  Without further adieu let’s get to this week’s city-centric rundown of public meetings.

Spokane City Council

(More) Budget, Baby: The public hearing portion of Monday’s city council meetings will be dominated by continued discussion of the city budget. As Daniel Walters wrote in the Inlander this week, money is tight in the city.

In addition to budget talks, the city will also be finalizing its annual update to the citywide Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The plan, developed by the city planning commission, includes investments in the Trent Shelter and other city infrastructure like streets and water utilities.

(Even) more money for Trent: On the consent agenda, Coeur d’Alene firm Architects West is set to receive nearly $120,000 to consult on projects at the shelter, including showers, laundry and individual pods inside the converted warehouse. This additional capital funding for the Trent Shelter comes as existing shelters, like Hope House, warn they may have to shut down without operating funding from the city. More on that later.

Life in the bike lane: In another consent agenda item, the city council is voting on whether to accept new changes to the city’s bike transportation network. These changes include a new trail connecting the Fish Lake Trail network to the downtown core via a pathway winding from Government Way down into Highbridge Park and many more additional bike routes in the city. You can check-out the staff report on the changes here.

Agenda here
Monday, Nov. 14 at 6 p.m.
Council Chambers in the Lower Level of City Hall.
808 W Spokane Falls Blvd, Spokane, WA 99201
The meeting is also livestreamed here.
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Spokane City Urban Experience Committee

A Renewed Hope?: This meeting doesn’t include public comment, but it includes some significant actions regarding local homeless shelters. A resolution commits the city to prioritizing existing shelters by maintaining 2022 funding for existing shelters plus 8% to account for inflation. According to city officials, this funding prioritization and additional funding sources should cover the operating expenses for Hope House and other existing shelter operators. Those additional funding sources include the council prodding the city administration to move forward with a plan to spend $3.5 million in ARPA funding.

Read more of our reporting on the administration’s challenges utilizing ARPA Funding here.

Camp Hope Status Update: Empire Health Foundation (EHF) President Zeke Smith has been asked to address the committee on the current status of the encampment off of I-90. EHF is the primary contractor coordinating services like peer navigation at the camp.

Housing progress report: City staff is also updating council on progress on the city's Housing Action Plan. That plan guides the city’s efforts to create additional affordable housing units in the community. Even if we get the shelter funding figured out, the only path out of our homelessness crisis is building a lot of affordable housing.

Current events at the library: Shane Gronholz is presenting to the council about his new role as the Current Affairs Programming director at the library, which is an excellent chance to remind you that we’ll be at the library next Wednesday hosting a live podcast event on Ranked Choice Voting that Gronholz is organizing alongside RANGE.

Inching towards tenant protections: City council is getting closer to considering new tenant and landlord protections. Council will be briefed on a resolution during this meeting and could take a vote by November 28. Included in the resolution, which starts on page 59, are protections for renters and landlords including universal background check standards, tenant relocation fees and a program that would offer landlords financial assistance if a tenant supported by government or nonprofit programs trashed their place.  

Agenda here
Monday, Nov. 14 at  1:15 p.m.
Council Briefing Center in the Lower Level of City Hall
808 W Spokane Falls Blvd, Spokane, WA 99201
The meeting is also livestreamed here.

Spokane City Bicycle Advisory Board

Pedaling priorities: Here’s your chance to bend the handlebars of city planners regarding new and improved bike routes. The main event at Tuesday evening’s bicycle advisory board meeting is a ranking of priority bike projects for the city, according to the agenda.

Agenda here
Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 6 p.m.
Council Briefing Center, City Hall
808 W Spokane Falls Blvd, Spokane, WA 99201
To join virtually click here.

Housing Action Subcommittee

We don’t have an agenda yet for this Thursday meeting, but we figured it was worth calling out as this committee is where the proverbial sausage is made when it comes to ironing out new tenant and landlord ordinances.
If you’re interested in this meeting further details should be posted early next week on the committee’s city webpage here.

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