A funding boost from the Spokane City Council will raise the temperature threshold for opening the city's warming centers from 20 degrees to 24 degrees, potentially doubling the number of nights the centers operate this winter.
Amid the coldest week of the year so far, the city announced Councilman Steve Salvatori had transferred $15,000 toward expanding warming center services. Each council member has an individual fund to pay for a legislative aide, but Salvatori says he doesn't have an aide, so he plans to put the money toward other causes.
"I think it's a great use of the money," he says of the warming center services.
Salvatori gives credit for the idea to fellow Councilman Mike Allen, who suggested the service expansion. Salvatori says the mayor's office and local social services came together to work out the best use of the funding.
We wrote about local warming centers in December during the last frigid cold snap. City officials had already increased the temperature threshold from 15 to 20 degrees going into this winter. Salvatori says the new money can help continue those additional services and help keep more people off the streets on more cold nights.
"It's very gratifying," Salvatori says.
The Salvation Army operates the largest warming center for men at its building on Nora Avenue. A smaller center for couples and families runs out of the same block, but on the Indiana Avenue side. Hope House provides a warming center for women. The centers will likely open each night through Sunday considering the upcoming forecast.
Salvatori says he plans to allocate the remaining money from his legislative aide fund toward community youth programs, entrepreneurial support and Riverpoint campus development efforts.