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Thursday, October 29, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane City Council committee to weigh in on homeless shelter search

The Spokane City Council will weigh in on a contract with the Salvation Army to operate a new emergency homeless shelter – the location of which has yet to be decided.

City staff will present an update on its contract negotiations with the Salvation Army, and the ongoing search for a property that can accommodate a shelter, to the Public Safety and Community Health Committee.

“After council (committee) members provide feedback, city staff will bring (an) agenda item before city council for approval of a grant agreement for Salvation Army to operate a new shelter project,” said Kirstin Davis, a spokesperson for the city.

Following a request for proposals, the Spokane Regional Continuum of Care Committee selected the Salvation Army last month to operate a new shelter over two other applicants. The city remains in negotiations on a contract with the nonprofit.

The city had initially signaled its intention to open the shelter in the former Grocery Outlet store on East Sprague Avenue, but it has failed to win a commitment for funding support from Spokane County and Spokane Valley and met an avalanche of opposition from the neighborhood.

This week, the city acknowledged it is also strongly considering making an offer on the Daybreak Youth Services building on East 3rd Avenue.

Community, Housing and Human Services Director Kelly Keenan will brief the committee on the city’s progress in locating a shelter on Monday.

“We can’t afford to wait, we have to deal with the issue right now, that’s what we’re doing. We’re dealing with it,” said Council Member Lori Kinnear, who chairs the committee.

The city has been searching for the right space to launch a roughly 120-bed shelter since it ended its agreement with Catholic Charities to fund a 24/7 shelter at the House of Charity in September of last year.

Time is now of the essence, as the city races to identify a suitable location and open a shelter this fall. Without adequate shelter space, the city is likely to once again rely on temporary warming centers to service the homeless during the cold winter months.

Per the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in the case of Martin v. Boise last year, the city can not enforce its laws against camping and sleeping on downtown sidewalks if it does not provide adequate low-barrier shelter space.

The Public Safety and Community Health Committee meets at 10:30 a.m. in City Hall on Monday.

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