Spokane City Council picks Guardians Foundation to run Cannon Street shelter and delays decision on another

<p><p>The city locked down its operator for its shelter west of downtown , tapping the Guardians Foundation to continue operating the 24/7 shelter.</p></p><p><p>The Spokane City Council approved a $1.9 million contract with the Guardians Foundation to operate the 527 S. Cannon St. shelter Monday. But the council again held off on approving funding for a regional “bridge housing” shelter in the Emerson-Garfield Neighborhood.</p></p><p><p>The Guardians have operated the shelter since 2020<span class=”print_trim”>, when it took over the space to provide additional beds during the COVID-19 pandemic</span>.</p></p><p><p>The Cannon Street shelter is a pillar of Mayor Nadine Woodward’s response to homelessness, which she has made a cornerstone of her first term in office.</p></p><p><p>Three nonprofits <span class=”print_trim”>with a history of serving the homeless</span> responded to the city’s request for proposals earlier this year. The Guardians, the Salvation Army and Jewels Helping Hands applied to operate the Cannon shelter.</p></p><p><p>The Salvation Army has operated a low-barrier shelter during the pandemic at its West Mission Avenue building. The facility will reopen this fall but only to those referred there<span class=”print_trim”>, and will aim to transition people into housing</span>.</p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>Council members had questioned the cost of the agreement with The Guardians Foundation.</span> The $1.9 million Guardians contract, which runs through June 2022, exceeds the typical per-night cost of a city shelter<span class=”print_trim”>, some council members noted this month</span>.</p></p><p><p>Administration officials have defended the cost of the 72-bed shelter that will operate 24/7.</p></p><p><p>The Salvation Army’s proposal was also about $1.9 million in total cost, while Jewels Helping Hands submitted a $1.6 million offer.</p></p><p><p>The shelter funding <span class=”print_trim”>will not be pulled from the city’s coffers. The money</span> was provided by the state Department of Commerce <span class=”print_trim”>and is related to the city’s COVID-19 response</span>.</p></p><p><p>The council continues to have hesitations <a href=”https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2021/sep/15/should-spokane-homeless-shelters-be-required-to-si” target=”_blank”>about committing to the Salvation Army’s Way Out shelter</a> <span class=”print_trim”>on West Mission Avenue</span>.</p></p><p><p>The city, along with the county and Spokane Valley, is expected to fund the Salvation Army for five years. The city’s contribution would be $3.5 million.</p></p><p><p>Council members Karen Stratton and Michael Cathcart pushed to delay the vote on funding for the Salvation Army earlier this month, advocating the nonprofit must sign a good neighbor agreement.</p></p><p><p>On Monday, Cathcart requested an extra week. <span class=”print_trim”>“There is frustration that we still don’t have a good discussion going or agreement on what we can do with a good neighbor agreement,” Stratton said.</span></p></p><p><p>While the Salvation Army pledged to be a good neighbor <span class=”print_trim”>in practice</span>, its leaders – and Mayor Nadine Woodward – have questioned what would be in an agreement and how one would be enforced.</p></p>