The beds of Truth Ministries are back under a hard roof and surrounded by heat.
That’s no small accomplishment for a financially strapped nonprofit that had to house the homeless in tents for three months while safety improvements were made to its building at 1910 E. Sprague Ave.
“It’s nothing short of a miracle,” said Jack Maxey, one of numerous volunteers who donated time or services to the remodeling. “It’s just one miracle after the next. You’d be amazed. I am.”
City leaders and dozens of people who helped in the effort got a chance on Saturday to celebrate the shelter’s new beginning during an open house.
The new shelter, located in a former antiques shop, can house 38 men and 12 women when at capacity, said Marty McKinney, Truth’s director. Since it opened Christmas night, the mission hasn’t come close to reaching 50 people, but McKinney said he expects that to change once word spreads that the move is complete.
Many of the people who come to Truth Ministries have been tossed or turned away from other shelters, McKinney said. Like other places for the homeless, alcohol and drugs aren’t allowed inside. Part of what makes Truth different is it accepts people who are drunk or high as long as they follow the rules.
Spokane’s acting police chief, Jim Nicks, said the shelter provides an important service to the city by getting people, many with significant substance or mental health problems, off the streets.
“Truth Ministries has been a good neighbor,” Nicks said after touring the shelter. “I’m sure it’s going to be the same down here.”
Those affiliated with the shelter say they hope its presence can help the neighborhood, which has a reputation for high crime.
“It is located here to make some change,” said Charles Asare, who has volunteered at the shelter.
Truth Ministries isn’t ready to serve food and doesn’t yet have showers for those who stay. Still, shelter officials are grateful for what they’ve been given in the past four months through donations and hard work: sanded and buffed wood floors, appliances, furniture, a new water main and, most importantly, a new sprinkler system.
When the shelter moved from a downtown location Sept. 1, fire inspectors wouldn’t allow people to stay in the building without sprinklers.
That led Truth Ministries to seek permission from city leaders to put up tents at the abandoned Playfair racetrack while the improvements were made.
“That wind could blow at Playfair,” said Jenny Castro, a Truth volunteer.
In the end, the hardship turned into a blessing as community members came together to fight homelessness, McKinney said.
“It went down exactly as it was supposed to – as hard as it was to wait,” McKinney said.