City of Spokane shifts homeless people to new shelter

SPOKANE, Wash. — People who have been living at the COVID-19 emergency shelter at the Spokane Arena will be shifted to a new location this week. A new shelter opened Thursday in the Emerson/Garfield neighborhood.

The Salvation Army won a bid to run the new shelter at 55 West Mission Avenue. The service is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. People can go there for three meals a day and a safe place to rest their heads for as long as they need.

Salvation Army Major Ken Perine explained during a press tour Thursday that there are 102 beds available. Each one is spaced out to meet social distancing guidelines. Perine said guests will be monitored for COVID-19 symptoms regularly, including temperature checks. There is also a small space to temporarily quarantine someone if they test positive for the virus.

For the last 90 days, people have been living at a shelter inside the Spokane Arena. That contract expired this month and the Salvation Army won the bid to run the new facility. Perine said the goal is to operate this shelter as a COVID-19 emergency response center now and then convert it into a more long term center for help down the road.

Some neighboring businesses and residents shared opposition to the shelter’s location earlier this year. Perine addressed that during a press conference Thursday when he promised that there will be rules in place to deter loitering and encourage people to make steps toward a better life. Perine said people will not be allowed to drink or do drugs at the shelter.

“We’re very excited about this. We think it’s a great program that’s going to keep people safe and again, it’s that whole idea that we want to help people move forward in life, not just stay where they’re at,” Perine said. “We don’t see people as victims. We see them as a future victor, to move forward, and that’s what the Salvation Army has always been about and that’s what we’re going to be doing here also.”

RELATED:  Homeless community moves into Spokane Arena for next three months