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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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City plans upgrades to Cannon Street shelter

Tod Davin, of Krueger Sheet Metal, foreground, works on a hand rail, while Tom Segura, of Pro Mechanical Services, does some cleanup Oct. 30, 2020, to finish the first two rooms of the Cannon Street shelter.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Tod Davin, of Krueger Sheet Metal, foreground, works on a hand rail, while Tom Segura, of Pro Mechanical Services, does some cleanup Oct. 30, 2020, to finish the first two rooms of the Cannon Street shelter. (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

The city of Spokane is planning upgrades to its Cannon Street homeless shelter.

The city expects to make improvements to the building’s electrical system and a portable construction office, which houses several of the daytime services the shelter offers .

The electrical system is not fully equipped to handle the demands of the shelter, which includes the use of kitchen appliances. Breakers frequently trip when appliances, like microwaves, are used, according to city officials.

The upgrades also include a plan to run electrical service to the office trailer.

The Cannon Street shelter is operated by the Guardians Foundation. It ran the shelter beginning last April, and was recently awarded a long-term contract by the city.

The nonprofit rents the office trailer and uses it to meet the demands of its new city contract, which include daytime services. Since there is little space inside the building not dedicated to shelter, the Guardians Foundation hosts programs like Alcoholics Anonymous inside the office trailer, as well as one-on-one client services.

The office is also used to help sort and track in-kind donations like clothing, according to CEO Mike Shaw.

In a pinch, the office trailer may be used to isolate a COVID-positive guest. The nonprofit has one other RV on site that it uses as an isolation space, according to Shaw.

Having a separate space to isolate people who test positive for COVID is crucial to the shelter’s ability to operate. When COVID spreads to enough shelter guests, it’s forced to essentially shut down.

Councilman Michael Cathcart asked why the electrical system was not upgraded during previous improvements to the building, which the city bought in fall 2019.

City Administrator Johnnie Perkins explained that the electrical issues were flagged recently as the city’s facilities management employees conducted an analysis of the city’s assets, which include the Cannon Street shelter.

“That’s where we caught some of the electrical outlets needing to be replaced and repaired,” Perkins explained.

There is money in the Community, Housing and Human Services budget to cover the cost of the work.

The spending will require approval of a $250,000 special budget ordinance by the City Council.

The Cannon Street shelter will play a key role in the city’s response to homeless services moving forward.

Mayor Nadine Woodward has proposed the city build a new low-barrier homeless shelter in 2022 but, for now, the Cannon Street facility is the only such city-owned facility.

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