Listen Live
Listen Live

On Air Now

Good Morning Good Music
Good Morning Good Music

Spokane may spend $3 million to move homeless shelter less than a mile


(The Center Square) – The Spokane City Council is contemplating spending millions from its American Rescue Plan Act fund to relocate the House of Charity in downtown to another site several blocks away.

Though supporters of the proposal see it as a way to decentralize the homeless population currently clustered around several charity programs, critics argue it won’t accomplish its objective.

“If the point of moving the House of Charity was to get it outside of downtown and to help clean up that area, I don’t think we’re accomplishing that by moving this here,” Councilmember Jonathan Bingle told colleagues at Monday’s meeting. “That’s my struggle in all of this.”

The House of Charity is owned and operated by the Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington. It provides lunch and dinner meals, as well as a men’s indoor sleeping program.

In an email to The Center Square, Catholic Charities said it was looking for a new location for the House of Charity in partnership with the city, but hasn’t found a location yet.

“Our priority remains providing the best possible services to those in need and we look forward to collaborating with the City and other partners on how we can enhance community supports,” the email said.

At Monday’s city council’s meeting, discussions revolved around the notion of closing the House of Charity and relocating homeless to the former Carlyle Hotel on South Post Street, less than a mile away. The homeless would be provided full-time temporary housing in a manner similar to the Catholic Charities The Catalyst located on West Sunset Boulevard, which is described as an “emergency supportive housing program.”

Dawn Kinder is the director of the city’s Neighborhood, Housing, and Human Services division. She told skeptics of the proposal like Bingle that they are doing more than just moving locations.

“We’re closing House of Charity and requiring that they sell that location,” she said at the city council meeting. “I think that’s a very pivotal distinction, because I think if we were just moving an emergency shelter that was not open 24/7, there would be a much different level of impact.”

Councilmember Kitty Klitzke said one of the problems is that House of Charity isn’t open all day, so homeless waiting throughout the day for meals will use the restrooms of nearby businesses.

“Just being able to keep folks indoors all day, give them access to a bathroom, that would make such a huge difference to that section of downtown right there,” she said.

However, Councilmember Michael Cathcart said, “I’m not comfortable with spending $3 million just to move location downtown. I think we should be requiring, frankly, that they’re identifying a location that’s not, an equal or lesser sort of census tract. We should be changing our attitudes about where these are going to go. And we shouldn’t just simply say ‘Well, downtown is where they belong.’ That has not worked out so well.”

Local business owners are also protesting the proposal. In a Tuesday email to Mayor Lisa Brown and others, downtown real estate developer Chris Batten wrote that “this is would be an absolute unmitigated disaster for the future of Downtown. Turn the lights out.”

He added that “this feels like a slight of hand, disingenuous at best, dishonest at worst. I ask you, why would anyone continue to invest in this community when our own local government undermines the safety of our patrons, employees and historic properties while continuing to compromise the cultural and economic heart of the city?”