Women’s Club of Spokane wants homeless organization out

SPOKANE, Wash. — Two local nonprofits find themselves in a public dispute. The Women’s Club of Spokane says Jewels Helping Hands overstayed their welcome. Originally, Jewels leadership said the two had an agreement to stay inside the facility back in February, but the Club said that’s not the case.

This all started back in February when temperatures dipped dangerously low. Jewels Helping Hands came to the Women’s Club asking to use their space to house homeless people. The two sides met, and leaders at the Women’s Club said they didn’t hear back from Jewels and assumed the shelter lost interest — but that’s not what happened. It was a shock for Club President Joshua Awesome when Jewels Helping hands moved in.

“One of our board members jumped in and let us know that the night before they finished moving in to the facility,” said Awesome.

He says early on, the Women’s Club of Spokane agreed to let the homeless shelter in the building, only at night. If there were event coming up Jewels would leave the building. A volunteer gave Julie Garcia the Executive Director of Jewels, a key to the club to look things over.

“It was building occupancy check, and as she believed it was just to figure out if this was possible, because maybe we’re going to have another cold snap… in case we have an opportunity to where we can support it would be nice to have that available,” said Awesome.

Garcia said at that point they moved in, she adds they had a verbal agreement to stay until August.

“They were here for all of those walkthroughs which included fire and safety, the police and Spokane Regional Health Department. They were here, they signed those and those were going through June 12th,” said Garcia.

The two documents that were shown to 4 News Now were from the City of Spokane and the Spokane Regional Health District, giving Jewels permission to serve food and house people inside. They were not rental agreements and were not legally binding.

“They posted on Nextdoor telling neighbors that we hijacked their building that we were never suppose to be there, they’ve been here with us for the last month, they operate downstairs,” said Garcia.

The Women’s Club says it asked Jewels to leave and had given them multiple notices, but as Awesome put it, they are between a rock and a hard place.

“There is a moratorium that makes it so if a homeless shelter has occupants they are not allowed to be evicted and she’s aware of that and she’s told us that it’s illegal for her to be evicted,” said Awesome.

We reached out to the City of Spokane and they say this is a dispute between two private organizations so there is not much they can do at this time.