Mayor, city scramble to find shelter space for homeless

Three out of the four emergency warming centers from last year will not be reopening. The city of Spokane is running out of time to find replacement shelters for thousands of people.

With colder weather on the way, this has left Spokane Mayor David Condon and the Spokane City Council pointing fingers at one another.

“It is immoral for a local government to sentence any person to freeze to death on our streets when we have the resources to help them,” said Ben Stuckart, City Council President.

Yet City Council members fear this may be the reality for many living on the streets, after losing three out of the four emergency warming shelters from last winter.

“We simply ask the administration to join us in supporting the community effort to reduce homelessness by bringing us a plan that we can fund,” said Stuckart.

Stuckart said the Cannon Center is currently under negotiations. They hope the facility can be open 24/7, but the Salem Lutheran Church, Westminster United Church, and the Ermina Center will not be reopening.

“City Council members were told last summer there would be a solid plan and a shelter space in place by this fall,” said Karen Stratton, City Council member.

As of Wednesday, none of those details have been finalized. However, Mayor Condon said a plan is already in the works.

“Yesterday I was touring a possible location with the Salvation Army. So when they say I am trying to stop this or trying not to let happen, that is a complete fabrication,” Condon said.

That plan includes working on a contract with the Salvation Army to hire and train employees, finalizing a new shelter that would accommodate up to 60 people, as well as open two warming center locations that would fit up to 150 people.

“At some point they are going to have to stand alongside the plan, rather than throwing darts all along the way,” said Condon.

The city is hopeful that details for the overnight shelter will be finalized by next week.