Project ID director concerned about non-profit as new homeless shelter moves in next door

When a Project ID staff member asked a homeless man camping on their property to leave on early Wednesday, his response was to get angry, start swearing and to then throw a brick through their glass door.

That incident now has Bob Hutchinson, Project ID’s executive director, worried for the future as the city’s all but guaranteed homeless shelter moves into the old Grocery Outlet on Sprague.

“I’m not against what is coming in. I think it is awesome, people are going to get services they need to get into permanent housing and create a good world for themselves,” Hutchinson said.

But what he is worried about, first off, is the migration of homeless folks he said have already made their way to the area, and the transient individuals that don’t want to receive help, but gather in the area anyway.

“Downtown, they’ve shown us where they go, and that is around the shelter,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson said he’s been picking up 8-10 needles each week from the front of his building. It’s a concern because of who his organization serves.

Project ID is a non-profit that works with developmentally disabled folks that need to have a safe environment.

“The bottom line is we need to make sure the folks we serve our safe,” Hutchinson said. “This population is very vulnerable.”

Hutchinson said the City of Spokane can’t approach this shelter in the ways they have with the other downtown ones.

“My feeling is they need to have 24 hours security,” Hutchinson said. “If we shine so much light on this area, darkness then can’t be here. But if we choose to go down the path that we’ve done in the past, they you’re going to have one beacon of light with all the other problems.”

Hutchinson said that Project ID could be a great ally to the shelter in helping create a community, but if the security measures aren’t there, he said he’s going to have to consider moving.

City Spokeswoman Marlene Feist said they are going to take those into account when considering safety measures.

“We want to look at lighting, and physical presences of employees that can call in case of an emergency, safety means a lot of things,” Feist said. “It can mean how are we going to keep the people coming for services safe and how we are going to keep the people around it safe.”

Feist said the shelter will open sometime this fall and will be able to sleep upwards of 120 adults, though they don’t expect that high of a number at first.

The city will be holding an open forum for residents and others that would like to voice their concerns and hear from city leaders and police on July 30th at 6 p.m. at Project ID. They are located at 4209 E Pacific, immediately behind the Grocery Outlet building.