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Spokane City Council to address closing of warming shelter on Thursday

The council will also discuss how the city will make sure there are adequate warming centers for those experiencing homelessness.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Spokane City Council is set to hold a special session on Thursday, Jan. 13 to discuss the closure of the city's emergency warming shelter. The council will also discuss how the city will make sure there are adequate warming centers for those experiencing homelessness.

Spokane opened a temporary warming shelter on Dec. 26, 2021, at the Spokane Convention Center. The shelter came as freezing temperatures plummeted the Inland Northwest. 

While the shelter was originally scheduled to close on Jan. 2, it remained open for an additional week and officially closed on Jan. 9.

City Spokesperson Brian Coddington said the city is still looking for a temporary homeless shelter site and is looking into opening another warming center in the case of future severe weather events.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced his plans to spend $815 million to address homelessness throughout the state in December.

“Once again the needs of our most vulnerable in the community are not being met,” Finance Chair and Councilwoman Betsy Wilkerson said in a statement. “This challenge requires the whole community to be engaged and supportive. As Finance Chair I am committed to supporting the administration in having sufficient shelter beds.”

City council members plan to meet Thursday to discuss solutions to the current emergency warming situation and rapidly house those in Spokane experiencing homelessness, according to a press release from the city of Spokane.

"In response to at least two mayors not preparing for an adequate homeless shelter in freezing weather, Spokane City Council has enacted several ordinance provisions that would have mitigated the current situation we find ourselves in of having insufficient shelter beds to serve the houseless in the current frigid temperatures, and those ordinances need to be followed," Councilwoman Lori Kinnear said in a statement.

The special study session is set to take place at 11 a.m. on Thursday and will be open for public viewing on Spokane's CityCable 5 or the Spokane City Council's Facebook page.