(The Center Square) – Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward announced a new program to help homeless people stabilize their lives. His plan relies heavily on community engagement.
“Spokane, like virtually every community in the county, is struggling with how to help its homeless population,” she said during Wednesday’s 2022 State of the City Address.
Homelessness is an issue that sparks heated debate, especially when it comes to creating shelters, she said.
However, this passion can fuel progress when coupled with a spirit of collaboration between public agencies, private organizations and community members, she said.
“The idea is to bring together people and groups with very different approaches and ideologies around this universally shared belief: that sidewalks, alleys and other outdoor spaces are not safe, healthy or humane,” he said. she declared.
During his April 27 speech at the Spokane Convention Center, Woodward made a big reveal. She outlined Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington’s plans to move House of Charity, a downtown shelter, to a new location several miles outside of downtown Spokane. The actual location has not been identified.
The project dubbed “House of Charity 2.0” allows Catholic Charities to move its shelter to a larger site that can potentially accommodate 250 to 300 men and women instead of being limited to 135 beds.
Woodward said the new Catholic Charities campus will provide low-barrier accommodation services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which means entry requirements are limited or minimal. Those staying at the facility will have access to mental health care, addiction treatment, job training, peer support counseling, permanent housing programs and more.
The goal, she said, is to make homelessness “rare, brief and non-recurring.”
Robert McCann, CEO and president of Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington, later told the spokesperson-review that the cost of setting up the new project would be $11 million to $13 million. He said construction will take about a year once started.
The city will help Catholic charities by seeking state funding and providing operational support, Woodward said.
Once the move is complete, the current Maison de la Charité will be used for offices and support services for Catholic charities, McCann said.
House of Charity 2.0 is unrelated to the city’s efforts to locate a new low-barrier homeless shelter on East Trent Avenue. That project hit a snag last week when Woodward restarted the process of selecting a shelter provider after the candidate review process was “compromised” by third parties.
The city council also did not accede to its request to rezon the heavy industrial property to accommodate a shelter for up to 250 overnight guests.
Earlier this week, the council approved requirements for future shelters that limited the number of people to 100 per acre.
Following the decision, Woodward announced that it would stay the course on lease negotiations for the vacant 33,000 square foot warehouse on Trent owned by developer Larry Stone.
On Wednesday, Woodward said work was continuing to implement initiatives she introduced in July 2020. She said there were eight areas of focus to help people get into safe spaces where they could access comprehensive services to overcome mental health and addiction issues, find jobs and housing, and otherwise improve their lives.
“Our job is to deliver results,” she said. “No other agendas, no other motivations.”
His plan came out of conversations with shelter and service providers, nonprofits, private industry and government officials, Woodward said.
“All collaboration is based on compromise,” she said. “Everyone should be able to identify with part of the plan.”
She said the Challenge Seattle model was her inspiration. This group is led by former Governor Christine Gregoire and made up of top business leaders tackling civic challenges, such as homelessness.
Woodward listed 15 immediate steps to start enacting homelessness initiatives. Identifying suitable shelter space was high on the list, which included recruiting volunteers, launching a community fundraising effort to meet immediate needs, and finding a source of funding. long-term.
“Let me be very clear on one thing: this plan is a chapter,” she said. “This is not the end of a book.”