Shelter System Flexing To Add Short-Term Space

Brian Coddington, Communications Director, 509.625.6740

Thursday, November 5, 2020 at 2:42 p.m.

With overnight temperatures expected to dip into the 20s, the City is once again partnering with existing shelter operators to flex capacities to temporarily offer as many as 105 additional low-barrier, night-by-night spaces for adults, Mayor Nadine Woodward announced today. 

The City is continuing its agreement with Truth Ministries to temporarily cover the $2 fee for stay, removing the barrier for men to immediately access 75 spaces at the shelter. The Union Gospel Mission’s Men’s Shelter will again offer 12 low-barrier spaces when temperatures drop below freezing. The Way Out Shelter on Mission also has flexed to add 18 more spaces. The forecast calls for temperatures to drop sharply into the low 20s on Sunday.

“Spaces have remained available in the shelter system and we are adding more in anticipation of increased demand when the temperatures drop,” Woodward said. “The ability to flex the system to add space worked really well last month thanks to the willingness of our partners to work with the City.”

Homeless outreach teams, police officers, and firefighters will have bus passes to distribute to anyone needing a ride to a shelter. The City’s Community, Housing, and Human Services department has provided the passes for distribution through public safety personnel. Additional passes were purchased by SNAP through Spokane Transit Authority’s Community Access Program using community donations. Information about the additional shelter space and transportation options is being communicated to the media, via social media, directly to shelter operators, and to others in the shelter network.

Several dozen available spaces went unfilled during the early-season cold snap last month. The addition of temporary low-barrier, night-by-night spaces for adults and the removal of barriers for others expanded the system capacity by more than 100 spaces over several days during unseasonably cold and record snowy weather.

The flex space at Truth Ministries will be open until the seasonal Cannon Street site opens as a warming center this month. The building will have space for 80 adults. 

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.