Spokane Journal of Business

Spokane County, city find site for crisis stabilization center

$4 million in renovations planned at old motor pool garage building

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Spokane County is transforming its former motor pool garage at 1302 W. Gardner into a crisis stabilization center for those arrested for low-level crimes whose behavior is a symptom of mental illness--or a combination of mental illness and substance-use disorders.

The mental health crisis stabilization facility has been in the works for more than two years, says Ariane Schmidt, regional project manager for the city of Spokane and Spokane County. The city, county, and Spokane Regional Law and Justice Council have been working together with law enforcement, mental health professionals, and public defenders to find a site for the new center.

The center likely will open in late 2020 or early 2021, following more than $4 million in renovations to the building.

The nearly 100-year-old, 15,000-square-foot building currently is vacant.

“It’s a beautiful blank slate for us to remodel so that we are able to take advantage of floor-plan efficiencies for operating the facility, as well as complying with what the Department of Health needs to have for licensure for the facility,” Schmidt says.

In total, Spokane County has $4.2 million to prepare the building. The county received $2.4 million from the state supplemental budget for capital use in 2018, followed this year by $2 million for funding capital projects.

Schmidt says the county also received a two-year, $1.6 million operational grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“As long as the facility opens before the end of that particular grant, we could use that grant to offset any operational costs for the facility as it gets up and running,” Schmidt says.

The county chose Seattle-based nonprofit Pioneer Human Services to operate the center, which Schmidt says doesn’t yet have a formal name. That organization already has a presence in Spokane, operating The Carlyle and Pioneer Pathway House multifamily housing developments, as well as the Phoenix transitional housing program. 

Through Pioneer Human Services, the center will provide mental health and substance-use disorder treatment. Schmidt says the center may also add withdrawal management and sobering services.

“This will be the first facility in the state that offers all of these components,” Schmidt claims. “There are facilities throughout the state that offer pieces of the components … but we realize that the more you can have (services) co-located, the better service you can provide, and the better chance that the individual is going to come out on the other side poised to re-enter our community.”

The county is searching for partner organizations that can help those who have completed treatment to return to society while sticking to their treatment plans and remaining sober, Schmidt says.

The team tasked with finding a home for the mental health crisis stabilization facility decided the motor pool garage was a good fit due to its location, Schmidt says.

“It’s a delicate balance. We want to make sure that individuals who are eligible and are offered this option in lieu of jail booking by a law enforcement officer are in close proximity to the county jail, but not too close,” Schmidt says.

The building is less than a quarter-mile from the county jail, close enough that booking officers can escort a person who becomes violent or uncooperative.

Virginia Thomas
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Reporter Virginia Thomas has worked at the Journal since 2017 and covers the banking and finance industries. As a reporter, she loves learning about Spokane's many growing industries. She enjoys travelling with her husband, snuggling with her cats, and cross stitching.

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