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Washington State News

Spokane Negotiating Lease for Homeless Shelter

The Center Square

(The Center Square) – Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward announced this week that the city is negotiating a multi-year lease for a building that can be used as an overnight homeless shelter in east Spokane.

She said that a 33,00 square foot building at 4320 E. Trent Avenue was the prospective location for the new shelter. The former warehouse is zoned for heavy industrial use.

“Spokane is in agreement that a sidewalk, field, or vehicle out in the elements is not a healthy or humane place for anyone,” said Woodward during an announcement about the potential deal on April 12.

“We are adding hundreds of new spaces for people to sleep indoors, connect to critical services, and take that next step toward stability.”

The size plus the location outside of downtown and proximity to a bus stop make the building a good site for a shelter, she said.

According to county records, the property is owned by developer Lawrence Stone, who acquired it in March for $3.5 million. No monetary details about the potential lease have yet been released. 

If the city can reach agreement on leasing the site, Woodward said the new shelter will serve adult men and women and operate 24 hour a day.

Proposals from potential contract shelter operators are undergoing final review.

The city’s Community Health and Human Services department issued a request for proposals last month to draw applicants that could provide those services out of the building. 

Three proposals are under review and have not yet been made public, according to spokesman Brian Coddington.

Woodward said the shelter’s opening date is dependent upon reaching the lease agreement and completing tenant improvements. Both the lease and shelter operator contract are subject to city council approval.

Members of the city council recently toured the potential shelter location. Woodward said city officials began talking with neighbors last week about the proposal.

The city is finalizing a set of neighborhood expectations that will guide conduct, communication, and relationships with neighbors, said Woodward.

“It is critical that operation of the shelter is based on mutual respect for guests, providers, neighbors, and businesses,” Councilor Michael Cathcart said. “Partnership is how we deliver the best outcomes for everyone.”

Cathcart serves District 1, the northeast side of Spokane, as does Councilor Jonathan Bingle.

“Communication will be integral to successful operation of this new shelter,” Bingle said.  “This location is a great opportunity to meet everyone’s needs.”

Woodward estimated she and city staff exhausted a list of around 100 other possibilities.

She was criticized by some council members during the winter months for not moving fast enough to get a permanent overnight shelter in place.

At that time, Woodward said it was difficult to find a location were there was not fierce pushback for the plan.

When a severe winter storm hit the region in December, the Spokane Convention Center was used as an emergency shelter.

The center reported damage to floors, bathrooms and other parts of the facility that amount to slightly over $100,000 in two weeks.

To avoid that situation in the future, Woodward told the Spokesman-Review rthat her administration sought a building that was easily cleanable, with harder surfaces.

She said the new site also has enough flexible space to house men, women and couples separately as needed.

“It just checked all the boxes,” she said.

The city council is expected to consider legislation Monday to create an interim zoning rule that allows indoor emergency shelters to operate within heavy industrial zones. If approved, the ordinance would remain in effect for at least six months.