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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Another $5 million coming to fund solutions to homelessness in Spokane

Dec. 2, 2022 Updated Fri., Dec. 2, 2022 at 7:16 p.m.

Julie Garcia, right, of Jewels Helping Hand, greets a resident of Camp Hope on Sept. 30 after fencing was installed around the homeless encampment.  (KATHY PLONKA/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIE)
Julie Garcia, right, of Jewels Helping Hand, greets a resident of Camp Hope on Sept. 30 after fencing was installed around the homeless encampment. (KATHY PLONKA/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIE)

Another $5 million is coming to Spokane to help house the homeless, the state Department of Commerce announced Friday morning.

Friday’s announcement marks the final round of funds for Spokane through the state’s Rights of Way Safety Initiative, unless the legislature dedicates more money in the upcoming legislative session.

The $143 million initiative, passed last year within the state’s supplemental operating budget, sent funds to five counties to provide housing and services to people living in state-owned rights of way, including Spokane’s Camp Hope.

Local and state leaders have emphasized that closing Camp Hope requires adequate housing for those staying at the encampment, located on land owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation. The population of Camp Hope has been shrinking, down to 433 from a peak of nearly 700 this summer, according to state officials, but it is still regarded as the largest right-of-way camp in the state.

The final round of funds for Spokane County brings the total to nearly $24 million, which will pay for approximately 326 beds in temporary or permanent supportive housing, as well as other support services, according to a press release. About 50 additional beds will be supplied with housing vouchers.

“All of our partners deserve tremendous thanks, especially the service providers who are on the ground working day in and day out to keep people safe and move them to better housing as quickly as possible,” Commerce Director Lisa Brown said in a statement.

The latest round of funding includes $1.76 million for shared supported housing; $1.3 million for some types of rental assistance; $620,000 for a detox center that can be used for up to 22 hours at a time; and $490,000 to support continued programs at Hope House, which had faced possible closure due to a lack of funding.

Commerce has dedicated an additional $500,000 to the Trent Resource Assistance Center, bringing the total state funding for the site to $2 million, and $150,000 for Diversion, a program that helps provide relatively small-dollar, one-time support to help people get into housing.

The agency has already dedicated $18.8 million in funds, including $14.8 million to purchase the Quality Inn on West Sunset Boulevard and renovate it for the Catalyst Project, 100 beds of temporary housing. That project will open next week, according to the press release.

Those earlier funds also include around $3.7 million for coordination and outreach services, $1.5 million for the Trent shelter, and around $370,000 for an information system to track the local homeless population.

More than 70% of funds dedicated by Commerce have gone to projects proposed by Spokane city leaders, according to the press release, while the remaining 30% went to projects proposed by the Empire Health Foundation or the Spokane Low Income Housing Consortium.

“When we work together to address these shortages, we can make real progress for everybody, from Camp Hope to the neighborhoods and businesses of Spokane asking for help,” Empire Health Foundation President Zeke Smith said in a statement.

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