‘No prior warning’: Businesses worry about new shelter coming to East Spokane

SPOKANE, Wash. — The city is closer than ever to securing a new homeless shelter location. Nearby neighbors aren’t happy they’re the final choice for the shelter.

City officials have been looking for months, with every location being shot down by neighbors and businesses nearby.

The new shelter would be at 4320 E. Trent avenue in East Spokane. That’s about a half-mile north of Avista Stadium and half-mile east of Spokane Community College. It’s an industrial area not close to schools, daycares or homes, but businesses still say it’s too close to them.

“We’re all concerned about the problems it’s going to bring into the neighborhood,” said Jerry Tyson. He owns Oriental Market.

It’s the kind of problem Tyson wants nothing to do with. His business is about a mile from the new shelter.

“I know that they’ve had five or six other places that they’ve been asked not to come to, and we don’t want them here either,” he said.

The city’s actually looked at almost 100 locations before eyeing the 33,000 square foot warehouse in the old Berg building.

“It’s not a concentrated business district. It’s in an industrial area,” said Mayor Nadine Woodward.

Woodward says they’ve been in touch with the businesses nearby but not everyone feels listened to.

“We have done neighborhood engagement for this shelter. That happened last week,” the mayor said.

“Johnnie Perkins came out and talked to us and told us we’re going to get what we’re going to get,” Tyson added.

“We had no prior warning to this. The meeting that we did have — the city administrator made it seem like it was a done deal. It could not be renogotiated or stopped or even looked at in another place,” said another concerned business owner in the location.

Some business owners who shared their concerns wanted to remain anonymous. They’re worried about people targeting their businesses if they come forward.

“Even though the facility is supposed to be drug free and so forth, I think it will increase the activity around in our area,” the business owner added.

The mayor says there will be increased security, police patrolling and a hotline people can call with immediate issues. There will also be wraparound services for mental health and drug addiction on site all the time. It’s a new space to get people off the streets business owners hope doesn’t put them out of business.

“It could potentially be irretrievably damaged.”

All that’s left is for the city to sign the lease and announce who will officially run the shelter. Lastly, the City Council has to vote on a zoning change which will allow a shelter in an industrial location. City Council could vote on it as soon as next Monday, and both City Council members in the district sent a letter last week to nearby businesses letting them know they support a shelter in the warehouse location.

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