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New warming center sparks worry for nearby business owners

SPOKANE, Wash. - The old National Furniture store on Ermina is ready to open its doors again -- this time though, as a warming center for Spokane's homeless -- and those who work nearby are a little nervous about their new neighbors. They're worried the warming center will end up driving customers away. 

Tammy Hull owns Litz's Bar and Grill, which stands right across the street from the warming center. Hull told KXLY she just found out about the center two days ago. She's still wrapping her head around it, but is hoping for the best.

Hull said in her 11 years at Litz's, some homeless people have come into the bar and yelled at her customers. She doesn't want to jump to any conclusions about the men and women who will be staying across the street, but she doesn't quite know what to expect this time around.

"That's what I'm trying not to do, is jump to conclusions and think this is going to be an absolute crap show. It could be something that's great," she said. "But, I don't know that because no one talked to us."

City spokesperson Marlene Feist told KXLY the center will be monitored and cleaned by Salvation Army volunteers, who will staff the building, everyday. Feist said those staying at the warming center can take their belongings inside each night. She said the city's warming centers are temporary, with the hopes of opening a second emergency shelter by next summer. 

Starting at 8 p.m., the warming center will be open every night until 7 a.m. until the end of March.


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