City Council approves opening emergency warming, cooling centers at less extreme temperatures

SPOKANE, Wash. — People are dying from the heat in Spokane. Now, the conditions for city warming shelters, cooling centers and safe air centers have been eased so that more people can take advantage of them.

The Spokane City Council approved changes that allow these shelters to open under less extreme circumstances; changes that include:

  • Warming shelters must now open when temperatures fall below 32 degrees, and the city can decide to open at higher temperatures
  • Cooling centers will open when National Weather Service forecasts two or more consecutive days that are at least 95 degrees
  • Safe air centers will open when the Air Quality Index (AQI) is forecast to reach 250 (unhealthy) or more

“We lost 20 people this last heat wave,” said Council Member Lori Kinnear, “and I’m determined that we should not lose anymore because of excessive heat.”

In addition to these changes, the City of Spokane will be required to publish and circulate an annual plan for emergency warming, cooling and safe air centers by September 30 every year. This includes names and locations of center providers, similar resources, capacity and scalability and other information to make sure that people facing homelessness can more easily access these places.

During the extreme temperatures seen at the end up of June and into July, the city opened up their cooling shelters at the Looff Carrousel and they saw a total of 731 people use facility. Mayor Woodward in a meeting last week said it was used by people visiting the park, elderly people, tourists and some homeless people.

The Looff Carrousel will be open Tuesday from 11 a.m.–8 p.m. until the forecasted high drops below 95 degrees. All five city libraries will be open, as well, but their hours vary based on location. The following centers will also be open this week:

  • STA Plaza (Tuesay–Saturday: 10 a.m.–6 p.m.)
  • East Side (Tueday: 12–8 p.m.; Wednesday–Saturday: 10 a.m.–6 p.m.)
  • Hillyard (Tuesday: 12–8 p.m.; Wednesday–Saturday: 10 a.m.–6 p.m.)
  • Indian Trail (Tuesday: 12–8 p.m.; Wednesday–Saturday: 10 a.m.–6 p.m.)
  • Northtown Mall (Tuesday–Saturday: 10 a.m.–6 p.m.)
  • South Hill (Monday–Tuesday: 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; Wednesday–Saturday: 10 a.m.–6 p.m.)

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