Cannon Street warming shelter closing as contract ends this week

The warming shelter operated by Jewel's Helping Hands in Spokane will close when the contract expires April 30th
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SPOKANE, Wash – The City of Spokane is letting a contract expire with Jewel’s Helping Hands, and the building that housed the Cannon Street warming center will close before the end of the week.

The city awarded a $740,000 contract to Jewel’s in late October. The non-profit agreed to operate the warming shelter with a contract that expires Thursday.

4 News Now asked the City of Spokane about the contract Wednesday. A spokesperson said the warming center season is ending and the city will focus now on the regional shelter system that was established as part of the COVID-19 response.

That includes shelter space at the downtown Spokane library, which is currently closed for renovation but has been retrofitted to accommodate people experiencing homelessness.

“We have prepared to continue to respond and reduce the spread of COVID-19 among those experiencing homelessness and throughout our community,” said Mayor Nadine Woodward in a news release Wednesday.  “With warmer weather arriving, we must take this opportunity to proceed with our planning efforts on how our system of homelessness services transitions for the future.”

RELATED: Downtown Spokane Library opens as temporary homeless shelter

The city also signed a contract with a group called The Guardians Foundation to operate an “emergency isolation center” at the Spokane County Fairgrounds for people who have tested positive for COVID-19. That contract is for $348,000 with funding coming from the COVID-19 Outbreak Emergency Housing Grant.

Read the contract at this link. 

According to city documents, the agreement is for the first 30 days until request for proposal applications can be awarded and reviewed for a longer-term operator. The city has entered into other agreements for operating that site, including one with Longhorn Barbecue to provide food services and another contract for janitorial services.

Another contract is with Kodiak Services for security, defining the space as “an alternate shelter location at the Spokane County Fairgrounds for individuals experiencing homelessness.”

A city spokesperson said Wednesday proposals to operate a regional shelter system are being reviewed now by the Spokane Regional Health District, Spokane Valley, Spokane County and the City of Spokane.

A news release sent Wednesday says Mayor Woodward is creating a task force to look at the community’s system to support those experiencing homelessness and to help people transition into permanent housing.

The awarding of the original contract to Jewel’s Helping Hands was controversial, as the criminal history of one of the board members was revealed after the contract was given. The Guardians have been especially critical of that contract, believing Jewel’s lied about activities of The Guardians and dealings with the homeless population.

In February, Mayor Nadine Woodward announced the city has asked the Washington State Auditor to investigate activity within the city’s Community, Housing and Human Services Department.

As of Wednesday, results of that audit have not been made public.

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