‘Extremely complex’: Tensions mount to find a new emergency shelter as $90,000 of damage is left at Convention Center

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Convention Center that was used as a temporary warming center is in desperate need of repairs after the people using it left behind $90,000 worth of damage. The city can’t secure a new emergency location, and tension is mounting to secure solutions.

“What are we doing, and what’s our plan?” asked Zack Zappone. He’s a City Council Member for District 3.

It’s a growing issue Mayor Nadine Woodward says she’s working to address every day, but securing locations hasn’t gotten any easier. The Convention Center has $90,000 worth of damage from the two-week emergency operation.

“We saw a lot of behavioral issues with the population that was served during this time,” said Woodward. “Toilet seats were broken, mirrors were smashed, holes in the walls and lots of destruction.”

She says the city’s been looking for a permanent emergency shelter location and another long-term shelter location but has come up empty-handed because no one wants it in their backyard.

“We’ve encountered pushback every single time we try to locate a shelter somewhere within the city,” she added.

With no space secured, city council members feel like there are no plans in place.

“We shouldn’t be here in the first place. This should not be a crisis-level intervention when it’s cold,” Zappone said.

The City Council sent the mayor a letter asking her to “focus on promptly implementing solutions in compliance with city law.” The council is frustrated the temporary warming shelter was even closed in the first place. On Thursday, they’re holding a special session to address their concerns about the emergency shelter and homelessness plans moving forward.

“We’re pretty upset about and concerned about that and so I think we want to express that to the community and know that we’re here advocating for an emergency shelter,” he said.

Woodward says they ran out of time to keep the emergency shelter open because the Convention Center is already booked for other events, and repairs are happening now. She is working every day to find the space, but as days drag on, the complexities continue to mount.

“Even those who are passing the laws that are requiring me to do certain things, I don’t think they understand how extremely complex and challenging this is,” Woodward said.

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