City, County confirm plan to move homeless into Spokane Arena

Spokane Arena to become mass vaccination site
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SPOKANE, Wash – As part of its response to COVID-19 and in an effort to form a regional approach to the homeless crisis, the City of Spokane, Spokane Valley, Spokane County and the Spokane Health District will announce plans Thursday to move homeless shelter beds into the Spokane Arena.

The beds will move people who have been sleeping at the Cannon Street warming shelter and the downtown Spokane library.

A second shelter for adult women will be established at the county-owned Community Services Building

The shelters will be operated by the Guardians Foundation. Guardians director Mike Shaw told 4 News Now the beds will be in that space for 90 days.

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These are shelters that would not be open if not for the COVID-19 pandemic. The city has said previously it’s looking for a more permanent regional response to the homeless crisis.

Shaw said the beds will be in a 7,500 square foot space on the west side of the arena.

In a city council study session this morning, city staff said there will be an entrance off of Lincoln on the west side of the arena and will have space for cars to park as well.

The space will have security cameras that are already in place; the Guardians and a private security firm will have additional cameras as well.

The staff said the people staying there will be able to access services in a centralized location. They’ll have access to telehealth rooms to speak with healthcare and mental health providers.

During the study session, Council President Breann Beggs publicly praised Mayor Nadine Woodward for being “personally involved” in this process. He pointed to a debacle several weeks ago when the contract for the shelters changed hands and people experiencing homelessness set up tents in a Browne’s Addition park. They were then shuttled between several locations before ending up back at the Cannon Street Shelter.

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Beggs said Mayor Woodward personally went to the Cannon Street shelter that night to organize a plan to reopen the space for people to sleep.

The current shelters will be open Thursday and Friday night and the transition to the arena will take place Saturday.