First 24-hour homeless shelter open for families in Spokane

SPOKANE, Wash. - The City of Spokane celebrated a homeless shelter unlike any other in the city Wednesday evening.

Open Doors is opening the first 24-hour shelter that will accommodate families. Typically, men and women are separated when staying overnight. The big changes come just six months after the organization invited its first homeless families to stay during the day.

"We're thankful to be here and we're just grateful that we have this opportunity to provide this service," said Marianne Sfeir, the administration assistant at Open Doors.

The organization knew being open 12 hours a day wasn't providing the level of service many homeless families needed, especially homeless children.

"A lot of the homelessness in the U.S. is invisible, and so that's what we wanted to cater to, you know, that's at the heart of what we wanted to get at," Sfeir said.

So, when the city began searching for a shelter that could care for families overnight, Open Doors was a perfect fit. And Emmanuel Family Life Center, the building where the shelter is located, felt the same way.

"This is a great opportunity for us to help out the community by bringing in an organization that does just that," said Emmanuel Family Life Center Executive Director Charles Williams.

Open Doors hopes that through its 24-hour program, families will find it easier to be together and get back on their feet.

"The purpose of our program is to provide stability, to empower sustainability for families and to keep them together," Sfeir said.

"There's a lot of homelessness that's out right now and this is a great way to bridge that gap. I mean, it helps them out from start, where they're at, to make them more self-reliant," said Williams.

The shelter opened for 24 hours a day on June 5th and has already seen the number of families doubling since then. It hopes community members will continue to support the shelter so it can keep helping those families for years to come.