Breean Beggs, Spokane City Council President, 509.625.6255
Thursday, April 21, 2022 at 4:18 p.m.
The following report on housing and homelessness actions are submitted by Council President Breean Beggs and Council Member Lori Kinnear.
The role of the City Council is to set homeless policy for Spokane, enact laws and fund budgets. In contrast, the Mayor and her Administration are responsible for implementing the action. In 2021 and into 2022, the City Council was active in in responding to the housing and homeless crisis in Spokane as set out below in the numerous resolutions, ordinances and other actions taken, including adding millions of additional dollars to the City’s budget to add sheltering availability and other services.
In June of 2021, City Council adopted a resolution recognizing that the need to create a comprehensive strategy to address housing and homelessness in Spokane with identified priority actions. The resolution called for amplified information sharing, increased housing availability and accessibility, and a clear strategy to set goals. The resolution included a 13-point addendum that calls for a pilot “Smart Growth Initiative,” implementation of the 5th Avenue Initiative, receipt of quarterly updates from the Spokane Regional Continuum of Care, and monitoring of ongoing and proposed government-sponsored programming and spending related to addressing homelessness.
We welcome the Mayor’s upcoming announcement that she will be offering an implementation plan of City Council’s policies and budget and we will continue to work closely with her staff to follow local, state and federal laws and policies designed to protect the entire community. The draft implementation plan reflects considerable work and aligns with most of the policies and actions taken by City Council over the last year. We wish that this plan had come earlier and hope the final version will fully implement all the important policies adopted by Council. If the City had not closed 100 24/7 co-ed low barrier beds in June of 2021 without replacements and opened the winter warming centers once temperatures dropped below freezing, we likely could have saved more lives and prevented the extensive camping in the public right of way that has brought complaints from all sides.
Council Members have identified specific needs by listening to our constituents, including tenants, landlords, homebuilders, homeless advocates, individuals with lived experience, and fellow policymakers. The two of us believe that upstream investments matched with effective and innovative policy will produce the best path forward in solving our community’s housing crisis.
Ordinances passed in 2021 require the Administration to immediately replace shelter beds from closed facilities; open extreme weather shelters based on temperature, air quality, and shelter vacancy rates; and report quarterly numbers of actual homeless community members in Spokane. To date, these requirements have not been fully met. If they had, there would be far less visible homelessness in the City of Spokane and laws against urban camping in public right of ways could have been promptly enforced. Our understanding is that the Mayor and Administration are now committed to implementing these laws, which will benefit all of Spokane.
Below is a list of the programs and policies the Council has approved by formal action since 2021. We look forward to the Administration’s implementation of current and future policies and efforts to move our community forward. We also continue to be open to new ideas and polices that we can champion to continue our work in this area, and we request that all parties working in this space join together to improve our community because, most importantly, Spokane is a place where we all belong.
Resolution 2022-0029 - Declaring Spokane Treatment and Recovery Services (STARS) a sole source provider for transportation of intoxicated individuals in the downtown corridor to the STARS sobering facility and authorizing the City to enter a five-year contract - not to exceed $109,000 annually.
Resolution 2021-0097 - Approving an extension of a development agreement regarding the preliminary plat and planned unit development referred to as The Vistas at Beacon Hill.
Resolution 2021-0069 - Revising Appropriation of funds from the City of Spokane Community Housing and Human Services (CHHS) Department to the Salvation Army for the purpose of funding a regional targeted-capacity emergency shelter called the Way Out Center for the period of July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2026.
Resolution 2021-0075 - Stating the City Council’s intent to commit funds through a prompt request for proposal (RFP) process for the rapid acquisition or rental of real property for use as stable shelter or housing opportunities for extremely low-income people, as well as individuals, families, unaccompanied youth, and young people experiencing homelessness.
Resolution 2021-0076 - Stating the City Council’s intent to commit funds to the Volunteers of America Crosswalk Capital Campaign to fund the construction of a new licensed emergency shelter for homeless youth.
Resolution 2021-0068 - Approving the 2021 Action Plan component of the 2020-2024 Consolidated Plan for CDBG, HOME, and ESG grant programs as well as approval to enter into agreement with HUD and awarded organizations.
Resolution 2021-0065 - ;Establishing a list of City-sponsored development incentives.
Resolution 2021-0062 - Adopting the City of Spokane Housing Action Plan as a guide for future housing planning, policy development and regulatory and programmatic implementation measures, and to increase housing options that are affordable and accessible for people and families of all incomes.
Resolution 2021-0066 - Support for Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington’s application for funding through the Washington Department of Commerce’s Rapid Capital Housing Acquisition grant program and pledging future approval of matching funds and contract support to assist in the grant application.
Resolution 2021-0061 - Strongly encouraging the city administration to apply to the Washington Department of Commerce for a Rapid Capital Housing Acquisition grant to assist in increasing the amount of badly needed housing in Spokane for people at risk of homelessness or experiencing homelessness.
Resolution 2021-0053 - Recognizing that the City of Spokane needs to create a comprehensive strategy to address housing and homelessness in Spokane and outlining priority actions in the attached addendum that serve as a foundation for that work.
Emergency Ordinance C36164 - Establishing requirements for participation in rental assistance programs; enacting a new chapter 18.08 of the Spokane Municipal Code.
Emergency Ordinance C36082 - Amending the policy framework for the City's homeless response system; amending section 18.05.030 of the Spokane Municipal Code.
Emergency Ordinance C36077 - Improving the standards for the City’s efforts to help vulnerable and unhoused people during extreme environmental conditions; amending sections 18.05.010 and 18.05.020 of the Spokane Municipal Code.
Ordinance C36168 - Expanding the multiple family housing property tax exemption area boundary.
Special Budget Ordinance C36183 - Appropriating funds in: Continuum of Care Fund 1) Increase revenue by $134,881 for a planning grant that will be used to create a coordinated community plan for the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP) and to support ongoing implementation for a planning grant awarded to the City for the Youth Homelessness Demonstration
Special Budget Ordinance C36176 - allocating: $1,200,000 for funding mobile medical clinics in the region; $1,500,000 is provided for the reimbursement of permit fees of attainable housing. C) Of the increased appropriation.
Special Budget Ordinance C36163 appropriating: $6,000,000 for affordable housing projects in the city; $2,000,000 for a down payment assistance program for first time homeowners with incomes below 80 percent of average median income; $1,000,000 for sub-area planning to increase housing along transportation corridors; $300,000 for an eviction legal defense and education program in the city; $1,000,000 for funding to childcare providers.
Special Budget Ordinance C36145 - appropriating $250,000 for capital improvements to the Cannon Street Shelter, including the addition of supplementary shelter structures on the premises to be used for providing shelter to persons who have been exposed to COVID-19.
Special Budget Ordinance C36125 – Appropriating: $10,540,405 in grant revenue from the Washington State Department of Commerce Treasury Rental Assistance Program to continue to prevent evictions by paying rental arrears, current due rent, future rent, utilities and home energy costs, and other housing costs for eligible households due to the COVID-19 pandemic to be awarded via RFP.
Special Budget Ordinance C36126 - appropriating: $5,297,865 is from United States Department of Treasury Emergency Rent Assistance Program to continue to prevent evictions by paying rental arrears, current due rent, future rent, utilities and home energy costs, and other housing costs for eligible households due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to be issued via RFP.
Special Budget Ordinance C36097 - appropriating: $188,877 to the Community, Housing, and Human Services department in the General Fund solely for a men’s emergency shelter program. (This action provides an emergency shelter program).
Special Budget Ordinance C36068 - appropriating: $9,040,862 is provided solely for subrecipients awarded through an RFP process to deliver rent assistance funds to the community.
Special Budget Ordinance C36057 - appropriating: $1,100,000 for building improvements and the operation of the Cannon Street shelter.
Special Consideration CPR 2022-0016- Letter from the City Council to the Mayor regarding the sheltering of Spokane’s unhoused community members.