‘Answer to a prayer’: Warming center in downtown Spokane stays open through Jan. 9, city works to expand shelters

SPOKANE, Wash. — The warming center in the Spokane Convention Center will stay open through Jan. 9 to give the city a little more time to finalize permanent shelter resources. The center has helped hundreds of people find warmth and safety during the coldsnap.

It’s been a blessing for Anthony who’s homeless right now and checked in at the center on Dec. 28. He was able to avoid the arctic blast with a place to sleep inside, hot meals and support from the City of Spokane and the Guardians Foundation.

“If nobody who sets this up hears it from not one single person, I am grateful. Thank you,” he said. “I am, and that’s all that matters if you can help one person.”

The warming center opened as a temporary, emergency shelter during last week’s sub-zero temperatures. It was originally planned to close on Sunday, Jan. 2. Anthony’s grateful he has one more week in the warm evironment.

“That’s an answer to a prayer,” he added.

The city is keeping the center open for an additional week to give them time to work out final details for permanent shelter expansion. Throughout the week, they’re working to:

  1. Increase connectivity between the emergency shelter and permanent shelters.
  2. Standardize and expand the check in time for community shelters.
  3. Increase transportation options so people can move between shelters and around the city.

“In the system, there is space that’s going unused, so we’re going to spend the next week trying to maximize the use of that space to get people from where they are now in a temporary basis to something that’s much more permanent for them,” said Brian Coddington, the Director of Communications and Marketing for the City of Spokane.

To keep the warming center open, it’s costing the city around $200,000 a week. Events are already scheduled at the Convention Center next week, so the space cannot be extended past Jan. 9.

People staying at the temporary shelter are in need of hygiene products, warm clothes and blankets. If you’d like to make a donation, you can drop off supplies at: the Cannon Street Shelter — 527 S. Cannon St.