Services Are Available For Those Experiencing Homelessness, Others During Cold

Brian Coddington, Communications Director, 509.625.6740

Thursday, December 23, 2021 at 12:57 p.m.

With extreme cold weather in the forecast after Christmas, the City is opening a temporary, short-term center and reminding the public of the services available for those experiencing homelessness and other vulnerable citizens.

The City, in partnership with the Public Facilities District and The Guardians Foundation, will open a temporary 24-hour drop-in center at the Convention Center beginning Sunday at 12 pm. It is scheduled to run through Jan. 2 at 12 pm depending on weather. The location will be co-ed, accept animals, and is intended to supplement during the extreme cold snap the enhancements already embedded into the system over the past several months. Meals will be provided.

“Extreme situations call for a compassionate community solution that brings people out of the elements,” Mayor Nadine Woodward said. “The City is fortunate to have built relationships with partners who are willing to meet emergent needs.”

Operation of the temporary drop-in center is expected to cost as much as $100,000. Space is being planned for 150 people and can be scaled. Donations of non-perishable food, socks, hats, gloves, and hand warmers should be delivered to Cannon Street Shelter at 527 S. Cannon St.

Temperatures are forecast to drop dramatically starting on Sunday, Dec. 26, with below zero temperatures expected at times. Local shelter service providers are also prepared to accommodate additional guests as a result of the extreme cold. The Spokane Fire Department, meanwhile, will complete wellness checks of vulnerable individuals who are out in the weather.

“It takes a community effort to meet the need,” Woodward said.

Woodward announced a plan in July 2020 to move the City toward a regional model of meeting homelessness needs, introduce greater system consistency and predictability, and flex for short-term surge capacity as needed.

In recent months, the City:

  • Entered into long-term contracts with Truth Ministries (40 new spaces) and the Guardians Foundation (added day-use space) to secure year-round space that had historically been operated seasonally
  • Partnered with Spokane County and Spokane Valley to open the co-ed Young Adult Shelter (44 new spaces) for individuals 18-24 years old and The Way Out Center (60 new spaces) as a service-intensive, referral-based bridge housing program to transition individuals out of homelessness, meeting two specific system needs
  • Partnered with Spokane County and Spokane Valley to support the opening of Hope House, which expanded to 100 spaces for women
  • Provided funding to Family Promise for 19 additional spaces for families
  • Added hoteling as flex capacity with up to 40 spaces prioritizing the need for women
  • Added 190 hours of space for victims of domestic violence
  • Worked with the Guardians Foundation to offer early check-in for women from 3-5 pm to make more efficient use of unutilized space for men

During the winter months, community members can warm up at the City libraries during the day. 

“When the weather is extremely cold, we recommend that our citizens be proactive in ensuring that they keep themselves, their loved ones and their pets safe,” says Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer. “We want everyone in our community to have a healthy holiday season.”

First responders and public health officials are also offering tips for citizens for the cold weather:

  • Use fireplaces, wood stoves or other combustion heaters only if properly vented to the outside. Don’t use your oven for heat, and never use a charcoal grill or gas grill indoors.
  • When you go outside, wear several layers of loose-fitting, light-weight, warm clothing rather than a single layer of heavy clothing. Wear mittens instead of gloves. Wear a hat and cover your mouth with a scarf to protect lungs from extremely cold air.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
    • Signs of frostbite include numbness or a white or grayish-yellow skin area that feels unusually firm or waxy.
    • Signs of hypothermia include slurred speech, disorientation, uncontrollable shivering, stumbling, drowsiness, and body temperature of 95 degrees or less.
  • If you have to travel, stock your car with blankets and other basic supplies in case you have trouble caused by the cold.
  • Protect your pets by keeping them indoors as much as possible.
  • Take steps to protect your water pipes from freezing. Check out these tips provided by the City’s Water Department.

Here is additional information on extreme cold from the Spokane Regional Health District.