$2 million approved for homeless services; here’s how it will be spent

The Spokane City Council has approved an additional $2 million for shelter services this upcoming winter.

In a meeting on Thursday, council members approved funding for six main projects that will improve shelter capacity for the city’s homeless.

Of that money, $415,000 will go toward purchasing a building that will become a new warming center at 527 S. Cannon St.

Jewels Helping Hands, the organization chosen to operate the center, will receive $740,000, which will help them serve up to 120 adults, 7 days a week. Founder Julie Garcia said a large percentage of that money will go toward food and employee salaries.

Garcia said that for every 20 people staying at the shelter, there will be one employee.

“Our minimum wage is $12.50, soon to be $13.50 an hour. Those laws still apply to nonprofits who are hiring people at fair wages,” Garcia said.

Garcia was proud to say that some of the center’s employees will be people who have experienced homelessness. She said it will be a good way for them to make some money and improve their resumes.

21-year-old Breyan Lane, who has been homeless for several years, said the work people like Garcia do is important.

“I think what she’s doing is amazing,” Lane said. “It’s the people who actually choose to help us that can help us.”

Garcia admitted that the warming center is a Band-Aid to a much larger problem. But she says it’s an important step to take in the winter months.

“At this point, it is what is necessary,” Garcia said. “The options are limited so that’s why we need these 24-hour facilities. We need places for people to go during the day where they can access services and have people help them navigate the system.”

More help is coming to support homeless people in the form of thousands of dollars.

Truth Ministries will receive $180,288 for added nighttime shelter capacity for up to 50 men.

The warming center run by Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington will also receive $495,841 for an additional nighttime shelter capacity of up to 45 people who are part of families.

With an additional $154,793, Women’s Hearth Program will be able to extend daytime hours on the weekends to serve more women.

Lastly, $28,050 will go toward Hope House shelter to align its hours with Women’s Hearth.

READ: Spokane City Council decides on warming center location