City to Restart Provider Section Process

Brian Coddington, Communications Director, 509.625.6740

Wednesday, April 20, 2022 at 8:08 a.m.

The process to select a provider to operate a new night-by-night drop-in shelter will start over after separate actions by third parties that constitute a conflict of interest and a breach of the process.

Members of the Continuum of Care board who were parties to one of the proposals participated in board discussion on April 15 about which proposal to recommend. Although those board members did not vote on the proposals, their participation violated the board’s conflict of interest policy. Additionally, the three proposals were shared outside of the board evaluators before the board completed its process, which creates the potential for outside influence.

“Homelessness and the process of selecting a provider to meet the basic shelter needs of those in crisis is an emotionally charged challenge the City has been working exhaustively to meet,” Mayor Nadine Woodward said. “It’s really disheartening to get this far and to have it disrupted by even the potential appearance of outside influence in this competitive process.”

The Continuum of Care board, as part of an outside review process that is customary for Community, Housing, and Human Services (CHHS) Department competitive processes, was asked to review responses to the Request for Proposals for a shelter operator issued on March 10. The board’s RFP committee reviewed and scored the proposals and made a recommendation for the full board to review. The voting and recommendation process from the full board to the CHHS Department was never completed.

Concerns about the integrity of the process were raised by City staff on Monday and Tuesday. Accounts of those concerns were captured in meeting minutes and email.

“The decision to start over was the right one even if it was extremely difficult because it potentially delays the opening of needed additional shelter space and hurts those who need help the most,” Woodward said.

The decision to restart the process was communicated to proposers. Details are still being worked out about the restarted process and timeline and will be announced soon.