Spokane Arena to temporarily house homeless, shelter operator says

SPOKANE, Wash – The Spokane Arena will transition into a temporary shelter for the homeless beginning this week, the current operator of the Cannon Shelter said Wednesday, though the City has yet to back that claim.

The city recently ended a contract with Jewel’s Helping Hands to operate the Cannon Shelter and the beds at the library. That contract now belongs to The Guardians, another non-profit.

Mike Shaw, president of The Guardians, confirmed they will start moving people to the arena beginning Saturday morning. He said they will only be there for 90 days.

“They wanted to get these buildings back on track with construction, but they needed to come up with a place and ideally to consolidate the two,” Shaw said. “Typically, these shelters wouldn’t even be open if it wasn’t for COVID.”

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In addition to operating a shelter at Cannon Street, the city had additional bed space at the downtown library in order to keep people safely distanced from each other during the COVID-19 crisis. But, the library is under construction that will resume next week, meaning another place will be needed to put the additional beds.

“They don’t really have places to self isolate or anything like that,” Shaw said. “The homeless population would be one of the most at-risk for becoming contagious and contagions.”

The homeless individuals will be in a 7,500 sq. ft. space on the west side of the arena.

“It has showers and bathrooms, and so the population that we serve will have access to services that they just haven’t had,” Shaw explained. “There’s going to be significant crowd control fencing that will direct the recipients to certain directions.”

Shaw added that they have established weekly neighborhood meetings to mitigate or address any issues.

The Spokane Arena has no events scheduled in the immediate future because of the coronavirus.

4 News Now reached out to City spokesperson Brian Coddington, who said the City has no comment for the time being, but will announce plans for additional shelter space on Thursday.

The city plans to work on a long-term plan with regional partners in the coming months.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: 4 News Now’s Community Conversation about the homeless