Recent dispute could delay Spokane’s newest shelter from opening yet again

Recent dispute could delay Spokane’s newest shelter from opening yet again
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The non-profit in charge of operating Spokane’s newest shelter says it will open on Saturday.

The shelter was originally slated to open Friday, but safety improvements delayed the process and sparked a dispute between Jewels Helping Hands and the City of Spokane.

That’s because the second floor, where all the beds are, isn’t quite ready yet. The City still needs to put in fire exits.

In the meantime, the City said the shelter can hold 49 people- clients and employees included- with sleeping accommodations for up to 30.

Those people would have to stay on the first floor of the shelter.

Jewels Helping Hands said they don’t feel comfortable only opening the first floor because they feel it’s not safe or functional.

“Our plans and processes all involve utilizing both levels to have the most effective program,” said Tanya Riordan with Jewels Helping Hands.

Riordan said the non-profit offered to make the improvements so the shelter could open according to schedule.

In response, Kirsten Davis, communications manager with the City said:

“Because the City is the owner of the building we are required to use City contractors to make the improvements. When public funds are used a completely separate process happens and takes much more time than a private contractor process. The door is required to be completely replaced including the frame which will require asbestos testing. This information has been communicated to Jewels Helping Hands personnel more than once.”

The City says it’s on track and planning to have the second floor available the first or second week of December.

Now, Jewels Helping Hands says the first floor will open Saturday to accommodate as many as possible as freezing temperatures set in.