Dispute between City and shelter has homeless caught in the middle, left in the cold

Spokane’s homeless gathered in the cold on Friday, confused as to why a new warming shelter, originally scheduled to open, instead turned people away.

The City of Spokane finalized a contract with Jewels Helping Hands on Friday, giving the non-profit the green light to open the first floor of the shelter on South Cannon Street.

Instead, the non-profit claimed it wasn’t ready.

The staff at Jewels Helping Hands said they didn’t think the city would actually pull through with a finalized contract. Though shelter operators initially said they’d be open by Friday, they claimed the short notice isn’t enough time for their staff to prepare.

“It’s pretty cold but I end up surviving it,” said Earl Moody, who thought he would be sleeping in a warm bed at the Cannon Shelter.

Instead, he pitched a tent underneath the railroad tracks.

At the beginning of November, the City said Jewels agreed doors would open on November 22. Moody said that’s why he showed up early. He wasn’t alone.

Some experiencing homelessness were outright furious, pounding on windows and yelling at volunteers.

Though beds were ready, people were turned away.

The second floor of the Cannon Shelter has space for 50 people, but the City says it’s not quite up to code. One door needs to be replaced and exit signs installed.

That’s something the City says could take weeks to improve.

READ: Cannon Shelter will open Saturday, operators say