As the city of Spokane tries to address its homelessness crisis, the Spokane City Council on Monday night allocated almost $600,000 to help pay for warming centers, locations where homeless men and women can go every evening to escape the bitter cold.
That includes staffing for the Salvation Army and the Guardians Foundation to operate the warming center, $21,000 for Westminster Church as a new warming center targeted at young people ages 18 to 24, and $45,000 for an additional warming center on top of that.
The city's Community Housing and Human Services director, Kelly Keenan, explained the Guardian Foundation will also be seeking to offer solutions to one of the biggest frustrations for homeless people seeking shelter: A place to store their possessions while they're staying at the warming center.
The council also passed a unanimous resolution sponsored by City Councilwoman Lori Kinnear that called for other governments to chip in for the cost of serving the region's homeless population. Previous attempts to ask Spokane County and Spokane Valley to help pay the cost of homeless shelters have been unsuccessful.
But City Councilman Breean Beggs hasn't given up hope that their request might be more successful this time.
"There are three new council members with the city of Spokane Valley," Beggs says.
Homeless advocates, however, argued there was still a lot more to be done. The "warming centers" didn't constitute true shelter, and failed to provide for important needs, like food and showers. ♦