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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Final warming center in city’s winter homeless plan opens

Monica Tittle and Tracy Jean Blum settle in for the night in January at  the empty National Furniture store building, the city’s newest warming center at the time. On Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, Catholic Charities opened its temporary warming center for homeless families at its Rising Strong campus, completing the city’s plan to expand shelter capacity through the current winter. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Monica Tittle and Tracy Jean Blum settle in for the night in January at the empty National Furniture store building, the city’s newest warming center at the time. On Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, Catholic Charities opened its temporary warming center for homeless families at its Rising Strong campus, completing the city’s plan to expand shelter capacity through the current winter. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

With the addition of a warming center for families brought online by Catholic Charities last week, the city’s plan to expand shelter capacity through the winter is now complete.

Catholic Charities opened its temporary warming center for families that are homeless at its Rising Strong campus on Friday, providing overflow capacity for nearly 50 family members unable to stay at the Open Doors shelter operated by Family Promise of Spokane.

The family warming center is the final piece of the city’s multifaceted plan to meet the immediate needs of the homeless for the winter months.

“With the Catholic Charities warming center now open, the city’s warming center and shelter operations for this winter are currently meeting the needs of the community,” said Kirstin Davis, a city spokeswoman. “We will continue to assess and make adjustments as necessary.”

The city’s winter plan was centered around the purchase of the building at 527 S. Cannon St., which has been operated by Jewels Helping Hands as a warming center for adults since November.

The city made a number of improvements to the facility to bring it up to code, including installing exit signage and modifying the exit of a rear room in which many of Jewels’ clients sleep overnight.

To address the needs of women, the city increased funding to allow for expanded hours at the Hope House shelter operated by Volunteers of America and expanded weekend hours at Women’s Heart, so women who are homeless have somewhere warm to stay during the day on weekends.

The city also asked Truth Ministries, an overnight shelter for adult men, to expand its capacity by 50 beds through the winter months to accommodate a total of 92 guests. The shelter also agreed to relax its standards for entry, which included sobriety and a small fee.

A major piece of the city’s focus this winter has been operating warming centers 24/7, not just overnight, allowing people who are homeless a respite and place to be during the day. The city has also been actively monitoring the capacity at each of Spokane’s shelters, receiving a nightly count of the available beds.

The count allows first responders and service providers to direct people who are homeless to shelters with adequate capacity.

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