Spokane residents will soon be able to access an array of housing, behavioral and employment services in a new integrated center going into the Work Source building this fall.
The Spokane City Council approved a lease agreement for a pilot program site Monday night.
During the City Council meeting, Councilman Breean Beggs said the center wasn’t just about addressing homelessness, it also was designed to assist people re-entering society after encounters with the criminal justice system. He said the service site has been designated an EnVision Center, federally recognized sites that connect low-income households with a variety of resources.
If the different service providers are set up in the building by the end of the month, the new center may receive a visit from Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson during a trip Oct. 24 to Spokane when he will be keynote speaker for the Washington Policy Center’s 2018 Eastern Washington Annual Dinner.
The new program will house about a dozen service providers and be in the same building as WorkSource Spokane at 130 S. Arthur St., providing people a one-stop shop for advice on tenancy, homeownership or legal issues, as well as behavioral health services and medical care.
During his presentation to the council, Community Programs Coordinator Alex Reynolds said transportation was one of the key issues behind the project. Many people who make appointments or are required to use social services under a a court order may have difficulties accessing different providers, he said.
City spokeswoman Marlene Feist said the city initially planned to build the pilot program at the Intermodal Center this summer. The site was moved to the Work Source building because of concerns that the Border Patrol’s frequent presence at the station would limit access for some groups.
“In the end, what they were trying to do was figure out a location that would provide adequate space for what people wanted,” she said, “but provide a space where people felt safe and welcome.”
Councilwoman Karen Stratton was the only council member to vote against approving the lease. She said she supported the $250,000 pilot program, but was concerned the funding source, $2 million in real estate excise tax already set aside for landlord mitigation, tenant relocation and land trusts, may put those programs at risk. She said once she knows the tenant relocation funding is secure, she will support the program.
Spokane Workforce Council CEO Mark Mattke said adding resources to the Work Source building will help people who already come to the organization’s site for services to connect with more resources.
“We have a long-term footprint there, so people in our community and businesses know that’s the place to go to get employment and training services,” he said.
The center will include offices for the Spokane Regional Health District, Center for Justice and Community Health Center as well as homeless services like Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners (SNAP) and Catholic Charities Eastern Washington.
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