Spokane City Council unanimously passed the ordinances in a meeting Monday evening.
SPOKANE, Wash. – The city of Spokane will receive more than $ 15 million to bolster funds for its rent assistance program after city council voted unanimously to accept two grants on Monday night.
One grant, totaling $ 10,540,405, is from the Washington State Department of Commerce’s Treasury Rent Assistance 2.0 Program. The other grant comes from the Treasury Emergency Rental Assistance Program 2 of the United States Department of the Treasury and amounts to $ 5,297,865.
Council member Karen Stratton sponsored the ordinance that saw the Council accept the grant from the state Department of Commerce. She said she was excited to add to the city’s rental assistance program.
“This is money that we have to send to the community,” Stratton said. “People need help, and I’m thankful he’s here and grateful that I can be a part of the positive process to get that money out.”
The grants will help fund the already existing program for those who are behind or may be in arrears with rent. Stratton said about $ 1 million is distributed each month as part of the program. She added that the high demand for the program could be behind the delays in the process of distributing funds.
While the program has been helpful to tenants and homeowners, the Landlord’s Association of the Inland Northwest has not been happy with the process. According to Steve Corker, president of the association, it is because they feel excluded.
“We want to be part of the solution in the community. We provide 97 percent of the housing, the private sector is doing it. If we’re not part of the solution, there won’t be,” Corker said.
Stratton said Corker was part of a group that would meet with the council to resolve housing issues caused by the pandemic. But, Stratton said the meetings had stopped happening.
In the future, Stratton wants help from the association.
“I totally support this because I think we need everyone to work on this issue,” she said. “The owners association is important to us because these owners are important to us.”
Stratton said that since funding for the program comes from grants, the city will not have to reimburse the United States Department of Commerce or the Department of the Treasury. At the end of the day, Corker said they wanted a seat at the table.
“If you don’t develop regional policy, then all the problems that involve people in financial difficulty fall on the city of Spokane. The cities cannot bear that burden,” Corker said.
The next steps for the city include starting the process of applying for local groups to run the program.