City Looking for New Temporary Homeless Shelter

Brian Coddington, (509) 625-6740

Sunday, January 9, 2022 at 4:10 p.m.

The City continues to search for a new temporary homeless shelter location that would be activated as needed the rest of the winter season and has requested assistance from the state Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

A temporary homeless shelter at the Convention Center closed today after two weeks of consistent operation during an arctic blast and subsequent significant snowstorm. Arrangements were made for guests who were willing to transition into space within the permanent regional shelter system.

“The community and our partners rallied around the most vulnerable in our community during a prolonged stretch of significant weather,” Mayor Nadine Woodward said. “Finding another location we can activate on short notice is a priority. We have been searching unsuccessfully for months and have not given up.”

Dozens of sites have been evaluated since COVID came to Spokane. The Convention Center has been available multiple times for temporary shelter use during the pandemic. However, an increased volume of events returning to the venue makes it necessary for the City to find another location. Space in the Convention Center is booked in the coming weeks, and damage caused during the past two weeks needs to be repaired and the areas cleaned to be ready for those events.

The City is searching for a property on a location that:

  • Has approximately 20,000 square feet available to accommodate human habitation
  • An ability to accommodate restroom facilities, either permanent or temporary, on-site
  • Distinct distance from a school, daycare, retail, and business concentrations
  • Equitable access to public transportation

A request from the City’s Emergency Management Department was sent to Spokane County Department of Emergency Management and forwarded to the state EOC. Representatives of the state EOC are assisting in the search.

Work is also being done to find a location for a new permanent shelter Woodward requested and received approval from the City Council in this year’s budget. The shelter would be located away from the downtown core and include wrap-around support services.

The City quickly activated its emergency sheltering plan last month ahead of the arctic storm. The action utilized a partnership with the Public Facilities District and The Guardians Foundation to create a temporary 24-hour drop-in center on Dec. 26 with anticipated closure on Jan. 2. Operation of the temporary location was extended on Dec. 31 by a week to today.

“We cannot thank the teams at The Guardians Foundation and the Convention Center enough,” Woodward said. “Every last person rose to the occasion and went above and beyond to help out our community.”

Simultaneously, the City has worked with the regional shelter provider network to expand and coordinate check-in times, create additional space and capacity within the permanent sheltering system, and add more transportation options to and between shelters.

Guests came and went at all times of the day and night. Peak usage of the temporary shelter ranged from 103 to 343 guests between 2 and 6 am. Usage peaked at 158 over the last night. The Guardians served more than 9,000 meals during the two weeks. Guests were tested voluntarily on three separate days for COVID all with negative results.

The cost of the two-week operation is expected to be around $400,000. Damage to the facility’s restrooms, ballrooms, and common areas are still being estimated. In addition, the City surveyed and collected critical customer service information to improve future operations.