City Gets Access To Resources to Address Housing & Homelessness Crisis

Brian Coddington, 509.625.6740

Friday, March 6, 2020 at 2 p.m.

Legislation championed by the Spokane City Council to address our housing and homelessness crisis has just cleared the state House and Senate, and both are expected to be signed into law.

House Bill 2497, sponsored by Rep. Timm Ormsby (D-3rd District), would allow, for the first time, the funding currently generated by community development financing tools to be used for the development of affordable housing within those designated taxing districts.

“Even though this is a small change to the law, it will make a big difference for parts of the city in need of more housing, especially the West Central neighborhood, which already has a tax increment financing district in place,” said Spokane Council President Breean Beggs, who led the effort to pass the legislation on behalf of the Council. “It has taken years to reach this point but we got there, in large part because our 3rd District legislators saw the urgency and made it their priority.”

Both non-profit housing advocates and commercial builders joined in support of the bill. Spokane developer Jim Frank told legislators: “This proposal is a win-win for developers as well as local communities and taxpayers. As founder of Greenstone Corporation, I can testify how these financing tools have been instrumental to the Spokane region, including Kendall Yards, planned improvements on the north bank of the Spokane River as well as West Central and Riverside neighborhoods.”

The second piece of legislation, HB 1590, sponsored by Rep. Beth Doglio (D-22nd District), could generate over $6 million a year for desperately needed housing and mental health services in Spokane with passage of a dedicated sales tax of 1/10th of 1 percent.

“Our homelessness issue in Spokane will take a large amount of resources to properly address, and HB 1590 could provide those resources, along with funding the services to support seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, domestic violence victims, and people experiencing homelessness,” Beggs said. “Like HB 2497, this legislation has been in the works for years and is poised to reach the finish line. It will literally transform lives.”

An average Spokane household would pay roughly 5 cents more in sales tax each day, which, as Beggs’ points out, is “small change for each household, but it adds up to a big contribution we all can make together to ensure that all of Spokane’s families, even those of the lowest incomes and those experiencing homelessness, have a place to live and the help they need to be healthy.”