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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Regional approach to Spokane-area homelessness takes shape

Tracy and Justice Andino, two of the first residents to arrive at Camp Hope in December 2021 and now the last to leave, pack up their belongings June 8 at the now-closed homeless encampment located on state Department of Transportation property north of Interstate 90 in East Central Spokane.  (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

A new regional approach to homelessness in the Spokane area is starting to coalesce, and now it has a name: the Regional Authority on Homelessness, Housing, Health and Safety.

Gavin Cooley, Rick Romero and Theresa Sanders, three officials of then-Mayor David Condon who have spearheaded the effort to create this regional homelessness authority, presented lofty goals for the organization during a Wednesday community presentation, foremost of which is a 40% reduction in the unsheltered homeless population within 24 months of launch.

The organization will be structured as a public development authority, a quasi-municipal corporation that will be able to administer federal and state grants, execute contracts with service providers and manage local programs. Participating jurisdictions, such as the city of Spokane, Spokane County and Spokane Valley, will need to enter into an agreement that cedes certain authorities to the organization.

The organization will be governed by a 13-person board, with five standing members from the participating jurisdictions: the Spokane mayor or a designee, a member of the Spokane City Council, a Spokane County Commissioner, a member of the Spokane Valley City Council and a representative of the county’s smaller cities.

The remaining eight members will be recommended by the authority’s executive director and appointed by the board, and will be drawn from various relevant sectors, such as public and private housing, public safety, and the medical and business communities. One position on the board is dedicated to someone who has experienced homelessness.