Spokane mayor expands emergency homeless shelter during cold
Feb. 21, 2022 Updated Mon., Feb. 21, 2022 at 9:08 p.m.
Amid dangerously cold temperatures, the city of Spokane is doubling the number of hotel rooms it offers to the homeless.
The city announced Monday that, effective immediately, it will fund an additional 40 hotel rooms every night for the week.
Overnight temperatures in Spokane are expected to drop to 15 degrees or lower most nights this week and may fall below 5 degrees overnight Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.
The Guardians Foundation – which operates the city-owned, co-ed shelter on Cannon Street – will direct people into the new hotel spaces, opening up additional beds in the existing shelter.
The city also has contracted with Union Gospel Mission do make 14 emergency beds open for women during the cold weather.
More announcements regarding shelters are expected in the coming days, according to a news release issued by the city on Monday.
“We share everyone’s sense of urgency to meet the needs in our community,” Mayor Nadine Woodward said in a statement on Monday. “That’s why our City teams have been working nonstop to continually enhance the shelter system. Partnerships that bring meaningful, lasting solutions take time to come together.”
City leaders have struggled to find solutions to provide emergency homeless shelter through the winter, as well as a long-term, low-barrier shelter that is funded in the city’s 2022 budget. The city has yet to announce the location of either shelter.
Shelter capacity through the winter has been stretched thin. A protest over the city’s homeless response formed outside City Hall in December and has since morphed into a tent city near Interstate 90 in east Spokane.
Temperatures are expected to be frigid this week, with lows failing to reach 20 degrees until Sunday morning, according to the National Weather Service. A wind chill advisory is in effect for the area until Wednesday morning.
The last time the city experienced bitter cold, the city opened a temporary shelter inside the Spokane Convention Center. The two-week shelter was costly and resulted in damage to the facility, but was extremely effective at drawing people in from the cold. It saw a maximum of more than 300 guests in a single night.
The city is taking a different approach to the cold this week by expanding its use of hotel rooms. Until Monday, the city had made 40 hotel rooms available for use as part of its winter shelter plan.
A cost estimate for this week’s shelter expansion was not provided by city officials on Monday.
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