Operator Recommendation, Shelter Lease to be Briefed to Council

Brian Walker, Communications Manager, 509.655.1387, bbwalker@spokanecity.org

Monday, June 6, 2022 at 1:05 p.m.

The proposed lease and recommended operator of a possible new regional flex capacity homeless shelter with wrap-around services at 4320 E. Trent Ave. in east Spokane will be briefed to the City Council today.

A broad-based independent committee is recommending to the City Council that The Guardians Foundation be the day-to-day operator of the proposed new shelter. Mayor Nadine Woodward approved moving forward with the recommendation to the Council. The cost to operate the shelter and other details will be determined through a contract negotiation process.

The operator, if approved by Council, would manage the 24/7 36,046-square-foot facility with an initial estimated daily usage of, at a minimum, 150 beds, scaling to 250 beds based on demand, and with additional surge capacity due to inclement weather. There will be additional space for services such as addiction and behavioral health services and housing and unemployment searches.

The facility would complement the existing shelter system and provide another option for people needing a safe and humane place to sleep.

“We all agree that sidewalks, alleyways, and fields are not safe or humane places for people struggling with behavioral health, addiction, and other challenges to sleep,” Woodward said. “The goal of the City and its regional partners is to make homeless rare, brief and non-recurring and adding this safe place to sleep out of the elements is about building trust so people feel comfortable with taking that next step in their journey toward permanent housing.”

The RFP sought submittals for two project types – shelter operations and services – that help adult men and women escape homelessness. Providers could submit applications for one or both project types.

For filling service needs at the facility, the committee decided to not recommend a provider at this time as the lone proposal that met the minimum criteria was based on a more limited scope of services proposed. The committee is evaluating three next-step options for services. Those include: working with existing service provider contracts to co-locate onsite; a pay-for-service model where organizations can bill for hours spent with shelter guests; and issuing a new request for proposals to allow multiple service providers with specialty services as the recent RFP was for all services. 

Five total applications were received during the RFP process. The group that reviewed proposals included representatives from the Continuum of Care Board and Spokane County; two shelters that didn’t submit a proposal; the Community Housing and Human Services Board; the Spokane Regional Health District; and a neighborhood council member.

The RFP asked for how the existing space will be utilized or subdivided to ensure safe, sanitary and appropriate sleeping and day space for six sub-populations; how entry into the facility, including data collection, bed placement, storage, pet/service animal management; security/weapons management, and entry/exit policy, will be organized; the rules, including entry times, re-entry policy and trespassed/temporary ban; and other information.

The proposed lease between the City and Lawrence B. Stone properties is for a five-year term with a monthly rent of $26,100. The lease includes provisions for utilities and services; maintenance and repair; insurance; alterations; signs; quiet enjoyment; destruction of premises; and more. It also includes tenant improvements to be made by both the City and landlord. The shelter would provide amenities such as bathroom and shower access, access to electricity for charging and meals.

An interim zoning ordinance to temporarily operate a shelter in any heavy industrial area citywide was approved by the Council on May 16. The City has evaluated about 100 locations as potential spots for temporary shelter space since last summer. A public hearing on the ordinance will be held during Council’s regular Legislative Session at 6 p.m. on July 11.

The shelter operator recommendation proposed lease will be presented during the Council’s Public Safety and Community Health Committee meeting agenda from 1:15 to 3:15 p.m. today. The meeting will be held in Council Chambers and streamed live on CityCable 5 and at https://www.facebook.com/spokanecitycouncil. Council is expected vote on both proposals later this month.

Over the past 18 months, the City has partnered with regional governments and providers to add more low-barrier space for women, men, and young adults, bridge housing for men and women, and 24-hour shelter space while also meeting pandemic needs for social distancing. The Council also approved Woodward’s budget request to add another permanent low-barrier shelter location outside of the downtown core. That search is ongoing.

Woodward announced a Homelessness Plan 2.0 in April, the next evolution of a plan she announced in July 2020. The plan is built on community collaboration and relies on resources from providers, nonprofits, private industry and government to further build a regional system of assets and resources that meet people with services, prevent them from becoming homeless or get them temporarily housed, and move them out of homelessness.