Spokane County Commits $500,000 for Trent Avenue Homeless Shelter

Spokane County is spending half a million dollars on beds, showers and offices for the city’s Trent Avenue homeless shelter.

County commissioners voted unanimously Nov. 8 to commit $500,000 to pay for upgrades to the Trent Resource and Support Center, a 33,000 square foot former warehouse. The decision was not placed on the agenda of the commissioners.

The Trent Avenue shelter in Spokane has 250 beds. City spokesman Brian Coddington said between 225 and 275 people were staying there overnight, but the facility could become even busier in the coming weeks.

Mayor Nadine Woodward said she hopes many residents of Camp Hope, the large homeless encampment in east Spokane, will move into the shelter. More than 400 people live in the tent city, which sits along Interstate 90 on property of the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Most of Spokane County’s investment, about $250,000, will pay for 350 beds and bed mats, 800 sets of sheets and privacy screens.

Coddington said these beds will replace the shelter’s existing beds, not add to them. Spokane did not define the maximum capacity for the Trent Avenue shelter, but Woodward said the facility could accommodate more than 400 people if needed, between beds and floor mats.

In addition to paying for the beds, Spokane County is covering the cost of an eight-cabin shower trailer worth $95,000, in addition to the shower trailer already on site. Another $30,000 will cover the cost of two portable office trailers.

Spokane County Commissioner Al French said the $500,000 will help the beleaguered Mideast neighborhood.

“This camp is a nightmare for the citizens and for the residents (and) businesses in this area who are negatively impacted daily,” he said.

Commissioner Josh Kerns agreed that investment is a necessity.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to spend local dollars to fix the state’s completely failed operation,” he said. “We will be the adults in the room. We will put the money and the resources necessary to solve the problem.

The state Department of Commerce has committed $21 million to house residents of Camp Hope.

In a press release on Wednesday, the Department of Transportation said it was working to close the camp.

“The timing depends on the availability of several safe and secure housing options for hundreds of people,” the department wrote. “There aren’t enough of those options available in the city or county right now.”

The Department of Transportation also said many campers are afraid to go to the Trent Avenue shelter.

“Residents of Camp Hope are regularly offered the city’s Trent Resource and Assistance Center, and some have moved there,” the department said. “But the majority have issues or concerns about this framework, including some who say local law enforcement’s discussions of arresting people are concerning.”

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said in September he would forcefully clear Camp Hope if he hadn’t left by mid-October, arresting people if necessary. The retired sheriff has since pushed back his deadline several times.