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City of Spokane moves toward year-round shelter system

In a press conference Monday, Mayor Nadine Woodward said the region is working on a program to get those who want it into permanent housing.
Credit: Amanda Roley
Credit: Amanda Roley

SPOKANE, Wash. — The City of Spokane is helping the region move toward a year-round shelter system and away from the seasonal model used in years past. 

The next step in the regional plan is to open a seasonal warming center to enhance the current shelter system capacity, Mayor Nadine Woodward said in a press conference Monday. The Guardians Foundation was selected to operate the warming shelter through June of 2021 for a cost of $750,000. 

However, next year, the seasonal shelter is going to transition and become a "year-round hub" for services at the Cannon Street location, Woodward said.

The center will have one operator and consistent staffing year round, the city said in a release. A year-round operator will be selected next year during a "competitive proposal process," according to Spokane Communications Director Brian Coddington. 

Transitioning the shelter into a permanent location will help the city add additional beds to provide relief for short-term conditions like cold, smoke, or heat, Coddington said. 

Regionally, the shelter system is also implementing an intensive Bridge Housing program that will begin once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, Woodward said. The program will help those who are chronically homeless find stability, and eventually get them into permanent housing and free up shelter spaces. 

The city has been renovating the cannon street location since last June, Woodward said. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the construction, but the city says vendors found "creative solutions to the hurdles." 

During the renovations, showers, restrooms and laundry facilities were added to the building. Work on a third section of the building with additional showers and restrooms is still being completed and portable showers and restrooms will be available in the meantime, Woodward said.  

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