SPOKANE, Wash. - Jewels Helping Hands, the non-profit initially chosen to operate Spokane’s newest warming center, has refused to vacate its position, despite orders from the city.
On Friday, the City of Spokane said new allegations against a second staff member at the non-profit have raised concern.
Allegations surfaced earlier in the week against one of the leaders, Jason Green, whose criminal past shows he pleaded guilty to embezzling money from his employer in 2015.
"We had another set of allegations raised to us last night, and so we just want to put things on pause right now and review the things that we've gotten and get through the correct information and then decide our path forward," said city spokeswoman Marlene Feist.
Feist didn't detail the new allegations. However, the city did say final tenant improvements and life-safety requirements are proceeding, with the goal of opening the facility no later than November 22.
In a statment posted to Facebook, the non-profit called the city’s allegations “completely false and baseless.”
Jewels Helping Hands said said it already signed a contract with the city, which it hasn’t breached, and claimed the city’s order to vacate is unjustifiable.
“Jewels Helping Hands team has spent countless hours preparing the warming center for operations, hiring staff and responding and complying with every request the city has made of us throughout this process,” the non-profit’s board of directors said.
“We remain committed to our community and vulnerable population experiencing homelessness enduring the additional pain and suffering caused by the city delays,” it added.
Furious protesters came to the non-profit's defense on Friday, shouting toward the 7th floor of Spokane City Hall, trying to get Mayor Condon's attention.
"We want to make sure what we're dealing with is actually true information we just found them to be serious enough and we just wanted to put a little pause on and be able to get current and accurate information," Feist said.
It's a pause that protesters say is putting people's lives at risk.
"Throughout this process the city has consistently created barriers, roadblocks and unnecessary delays. This is yet another slanderous attempt to derail Jewels Helping Hands operating a warming center," the non-profit said in a statement.
Jewels was hoping to open the warming center by next week. They city says, right now, they're evaluating their partnership.
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