SPOKANE, Wash. — Two temporary shelter locations are expected to open in Spokane County on Saturday to accommodate physical distancing among homeless residents.
Homelessness experts with the Spokane Regional Health District, Spokane County, City of Spokane, and City of Spokane Valley toured numerous potential shelter locations to identify buildings. Requirements included availability for the next three months and access to restroom and shower facilities.
Spokane County’s Community Services Building and the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena were selected as locations to house homeless residents who are not sick with COVID-19.
Women who have been temporarily staying at the downtown library will move into the shelter at the Community Services Building owned by Spokane County.
Shelter services for homeless men and women who have been staying in the Cannon Street Warming Center and the downtown library will relocate to a back-of-the-house area of the Spokane Arena. Access to other parts of the facility will be restricted.
People will be able to stay at Cannon Street through Friday night before moving to the new shelters on Saturday, according to city spokesperson Brian Coddington.
The Cannon Street building will be renovated and reopened as a day shelter, county leaders said.
Both shelter locations will be used to meet the regional 90-day, continuous-stay shelter need for homeless adults.
Hope House staff will operate the women’s shelter at the Community Services Building, while the Guardians Foundations will operate the arena site.
The shelter at the arena will hold approximately 105 people plus staff from the Cannon Street and downtown library shelters. There are 60 beds available at the Community Services Building shelter.
The Guardians Foundation always planned to eventually move out of the other facilities so they could be renovated, Shaw said, and the arena was chosen because of size and available bathrooms, as well as the cancellations of events at the arena.
Shaw said the arena is an upgrade over the other two facilities, and so far only one person in the shelter system has tested positive for coronavirus. That person was immediately isolated in a hotel room, Shaw said, and he applauded the Spokane Regional Health District's guidelines.
Shaw said the foundation wants to work with the surrounding neighborhood and plans on holding weekly meetings.