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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane declares state of emergency, increasing homeless shelter capacity as temperatures plummet

Spokane Mayor Lisa Brown declared a state of emergency Thursday due to the extreme cold forecast for the next week and the risks it poses to the unhoused population. She also expressed frustration that the system her administration inherited was “not as coordinated as I would like it to be.”

Shelter capacity will expand by at least 183 beds in the coming days to provide space for homeless people to get out of the cold, through the city-run shelter on Trent Avenue, other facilities and at least two churches. Spokane Transit Authority will provide free rides to anyone that indicates they are traveling to a shelter while temperatures are freezing.

In addition, the Salvation Army, which operates the Trent Avenue shelter, has vans available to pick up people needing to get to local shelters. That organization can be contacted at (509) 280-6860 or (509) 280-6894.

Below-zero temperatures and “dangerously cold wind chills” are expected in the region, according to a wind chill warning issued by the National Weather Service in Spokane.

The warning, which is in effect until noon Saturday, calls for wind chills as low as 30 below zero and could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes.

The weather service said people should wear appropriate clothing, like a hat and gloves, when outside.

High temperatures in the single digits and lows below zero will continue through Sunday, according to the weather service.

Among established homeless shelters, the Trent Resource and Assistance Center will initially accept an additional 50 people, on top of the current 400-person capacity that it has been operating at, while the Hope House Women’s Shelter and the Family Promise Open Doors facility, which accepts families with minor children, will also surge bed capacity during the cold weather.

Compassionate Addiction Treatment began operating an emergency warming shelter Thursday, located at 168 S. Division St., with 45 beds available.

Two churches will open their doors beginning Thursday as well for warming services operated by Jewels Helping Hands. Liberty Park United Methodist Church, located at 1526 E. 11th Ave., and New Apostolic Church, located at 3923 N. Cedar St., are providing 20 beds each.

The best resource currently available for determining whether a facility has beds remaining is, though providers self-report their capacity and in many cases their figures have not been recently updated. City spokeswoman Erin Hut noted that this was “not a great system,” and said the administration planned to address its shortcomings.

“In addition to responding to this emergency, we are taking notes about the inadequacies that we want to reform,” Brown said to City Council members and assembled city officials Monday.

Those wishing to donate or volunteer to assist warming center efforts can coordinate a City Hall drop-off through Sarah Nuss at or contact the providers directly.

Specifically, the following items are needed:

  • Socks
  • Gloves
  • Beanies
  • Jackets
  • Small blankets
  • Hand or foot warmers
  • Boots or waterproof shoes
  • Waterproof dry bags
  • Female hygiene products
  • Sleeping bags
  • Backpacks and duffels
  • Small flashlights with batteries.

While the city had hoped to temporarily reopen the shuttered Cannon Street Shelter to provide additional bed space, Hut noted that the provider determined by the city, Compassionate Addiction Treatment, will need a few days to be able to have sufficient staffing to operate the facility. In the future, the city hopes to be able to more quickly use the closed shelter during extreme weather events, Hut added.