SPOKANE, Wash — In previous years, the city of Spokane scrambled at the last minute to secure warming centers and shelters for the winter months.
But this week, it finalized a year-round contract with The Guardians Foundation at the Cannon Street center.
The $1.85 million contract starts Oct. 1.
The Guardians Foundation took over operations at the Cannon Street Center more than a year ago. They ran the center as an emergency pandemic shelter.
"One of the big things COVID did is take an emergency center that's normally 7p.m. to 7a.m. and make it 24/7," Ellen Smith, Director of Administration, said. "So now we're allowed to do more for people throughout the day."
Funding for the contract is for 72 adults and three meals a day as a night-by-night drop-in and day use shelter. It would also provide services to help shelter guests out of homelessness.
Smith said the contract will allow them to coordinate bringing resources into the center. That way shelter guests would not have to travel to access them.
"Up to this point we've been doing case by case. So if we and a client feel like they're ready for assistance, we'll reach out to the providers," Smith said. "We're hoping to bring providers in on a regular basis that can do some outreach themselves into the center."
She adds, the year-round contract makes the winter months more predictable for their staff---and more importantly their guests.
"By having a continuation of services, it allows us to really build the relationships and help people move up and out of homelessness instead of being stuck where they're at."
While this a positive new chapter for the organization, a cloud still hangs over The Guardians: Washington state's eviction moratorium, which the governor recently extended to October 31.
"That's the tsunami that's lingering out there that we're all afraid of in the sheltering community," Smith said. "We're wondering how are the evictions going to affect the homeless population. And we're all expecting a big uptick."
The Guardians have previously operated three different shelters before. They hope if there is a need for them this winter, they will be able to secure those locations again.