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Shelter System Flexing For More Short-Term Spaces

Brian Coddington, Communications Director, 509.625.6740

Wednesday, October 21, 2020 at 4:25 p.m.

Existing shelter operators will flex their capacities to temporarily offer as many as 85 additional low-barrier, night-by-night spaces for adults to escape the unseasonably cold overnight weather over the next several days, Mayor Nadine Woodward announced today. 

The City worked with Truth Ministries to temporarily cover the $2 fee for stay, removing the barrier for men to immediately access 35 spaces at the shelter. Up to an additional 55 spaces will also come on line by Friday once the space is reconfigured to maintain compliance with COVID guidelines while expanding the capacity. The Union Gospel Mission’s Men’s Shelter will also immediately offer 12 low-barrier spaces when temperatures drop below freezing and The Way Out Shelter, operated by The Salvation Army, will offer space for 18 additional spaces all while remaining COVID-compliant.

“The community has really stepped up to help people who need temporary shelter escape the early cold snap,” Woodward said. “Their generosity and compassion removes barriers for those who need a warm place to sleep in over the next several days.”

Truth Ministries has consistently had capacity for adult men, the greatest area of need. The Union Gospel Mission has had some capacity and the extra low-barrier spaces will create additional space for men. The Way Out Shelter, which accepts adult men and women, has been at or near capacity this month. The combination of new spaces and removal of restrictions from others adds 120 spaces to the low-barrier inventory.

Renovations to the City-owned building on Cannon Street are expected to be complete in early November. That space will open as a seasonal warming center with space for 80 adults. The City, the Continuum of Care, and its regional partners are currently reviewing proposals from potential operators.

The flex space will be open until the seasonal Cannon Street site opens as a warming center. The shelter system currently has 44 more spaces than would normally be available at this time of the year due to the opening of the continuous operation of the healthy shelters for COVID to give those in need of shelter a place to safely socially distance. Space at The Way Out Shelter and a temporary Hope House location account for the additional space even after social distancing requirements have been met.