City of Spokane's Homeless Outreach Team Adopts New Structure to Enhance Response

Erin Hut, Communications Director, 509.625.6740

Thursday, May 9, 2024 at 10:35 a.m.

The City of Spokane’s Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) has adopted a new structure to improve complaint response, broaden geographical coverage, and better serve community needs concerning illegal camping and other secondary impacts of homelessness.  

Comprised of two Spokane Police officers, multiple Code Enforcement Litter Control staff, and outreach partners, this team previously moved as one unit across the city daily.  

To increase and improve response, HOT now operates as two teams: the Neighborhood Team and the Downtown Team.  

The Neighborhood Team, comprised of seven total staff members and accompanied by a Spokane Police officer, operates in all areas outside of the boundaries of the SPD Downtown Precinct. The Downtown Team, made up of six total staff members and accompanied by a Spokane Police officer, operates inside the boundaries of the SPD Downtown Precinct. 

In addition to the HOT response, SPD’s Abandoned Auto Unit is also responding to nuisance vehicles. These cases are assigned to two staff members, which eliminates the need for the larger team to respond when no secondary impacts need to be abated.  

“This structural change allows our Homeless Outreach Team to continue their critical work in a much more efficient way. With these changes, our teams will move throughout downtown and our neighborhoods more frequently and as a result, improve our response to complaints,” Mayor Lisa Brown said.  

“This new model is already showing improvement. Under our former operations, our team had the ability to respond to roughly a dozen cases a day. On our first day with this new approach, they were able to address 34 cases. While this is preliminary data, I am confident this new structure will provide a better response,” said Luis Garcia, Director of Code Enforcement and Parking Services.  

“The Spokane Police Department is engaged in a collaborative approach to deal with illegal camping and trespass activities throughout the City of Spokane.  Much like 311 and code enforcement, SPD receives a large volume of calls pertaining to illegal activity on our city streets and in our city parks. This new approach will give us the opportunity to visit problem locations more often and provide resources to those requesting them, utilizing education and enforcement when applicable,” Interim Police Chief Justin Lundgren said.