Spokane City Council to address emergency warming center closing during Thursday special session

Warming Shelter
Copyright KXLY 4 News Now

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Spokane City Council will hold a special study session Thursday to discuss the recent closing of the emergency warming center.

The temporary warming center closed on Sunday after being open for two weeks. It was a resource for many during recent frigid temperatures.

Nearly 9,000 meals were served and more than three dozen people were connected to resources to find more stable housing.

The center’s closure has sparked some criticism from groups like the Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund, who argue that the closure leaves many without an option for shelter amid continuing winter weather.

The city has responded by saying there is available space in local shelters. Many of those open beds are in high-barrier shelters, not low-barrier shelters.

A release from the City Council said members will take time Thursday to look at the next steps in a citywide approach to adequate warming centers for Spokane’s houseless population.

“Once again the needs of our most vulnerable in the community are not being met,” said Councilwoman Betsy Wilkerson. “This challenge requires the whole community to be engaged and supportive. As Finance Chair I am committed to supporting the administration in having sufficient shelter beds.”

“In response to at least two mayors not preparing for an adequate homeless shelter in freezing weather, Spokane City Council has enacted several ordinance provisions that would have mitigated the current situation we find ourselves in of having insufficient shelter beds to serve the houseless in the current frigid temperatures, and those ordinances need to be followed,” Councilwoman Lori Kinnear said.

The council is asking members of Mayor Nadine Woodward’s administration to join Thursday’s session to discuss solutions to address the current emergency warming situation and rapidly house the homeless.

The session will be held at 11 a.m. and can be accessed via livestream here. 

RELATED: Emergency warming center closes: What’s next for people experiencing homelessness in the community? 

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