With temperatures expected to dip below zero next week, the City of Spokane plans to open a temporary 24/7 drop-in center starting Sunday, Dec. 26.
The center will be hosted by The Guardians Foundation and Public Facilities District at the Convention Center, 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd, and is expected to remain open from noon on Sunday through noon on Jan. 2 depending on the weather, the city announced today.
The location will be co-ed, accept animals, and meals will be provided. The city notes the space for 150 people is meant to supplement other existing shelter space.
The move also follows the Camp Hope 2.0 protest that saw homeless community members camped out in front of City Hall for days to draw attention to the lack of shelter space on frigid winter nights for some groups. Many of those participants have since been camped out on vacant property owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation.
The temporary drop-in space is expected to cost $100,000, according to the city, and donations of warm clothes (hats, socks, gloves, etc.) and nonperishable food can be taken to the Cannon Street Shelter 527 S. Cannon St.
"Extreme situations call for a compassionate community solution that brings people out of the elements," Mayor Nadine Woodward said in an announcement about the center. "The City is fortunate to have built relationships with partners who are willing to meet emergent needs."
The cold snap is expected to be hard on community members with housing, too.
"When the weather is extremely cold, we recommend that our citizens be proactive in ensuring that they keep themselves, their loved ones and their pets safe," Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said in the city's announcement. "We want everyone in our community to have a healthy holiday season."
Tips the city offered include:
- "Use fireplaces, wood stoves or other combustion heaters only if properly vented to the outside. Don’t use your oven for heat, and never use a charcoal grill or gas grill indoors.
- When you go outside, wear several layers of loose-fitting, light-weight, warm clothing rather than a single layer of heavy clothing. Wear mittens instead of gloves. Wear a hat and cover your mouth with a scarf to protect lungs from extremely cold air.
- Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Signs of frostbite include numbness or a white or grayish-yellow skin area that feels unusually firm or waxy. Signs of hypothermia include slurred speech, disorientation, uncontrollable shivering, stumbling, drowsiness, and body temperature of 95 degrees or less.
- If you have to travel, stock your car with blankets and other basic supplies in case you have trouble caused by the cold.
- Protect your pets by keeping them indoors as much as possible.
- Take steps to protect your water pipes from freezing. Check out these tips provided by the City’s Water Department."