Catholic Charities’ temporary family homeless shelter moves to provide more space

SPOKANE, Wash. – Families seeking shelter now have a better chance of finding it. Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington moved its temporary family shelter to help more people under the new social distancing guidelines.

More room to help more people is a good thing.

Marina Madison and her family saw first-hand families getting turned away at homeless shelters.

“I was homeless since January,” Madison said.

She and her family were evicted from their home in January after a physical altercation with a person she knew. Madison and seven of her children then had to stay at one of Spokane’s family homeless shelters.

“With me having the biggest family, it was really nerve-wracking,” she said, adding that it was also fun because of her kids.

It became a little more difficult when the pandemic started escalating in March.

“It was a little stressful… Everybody was panicking and the shelter was like ‘Just stay calm, we’re going to get through this,’ and we did,” Madison said.

Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington is trying to help people who went through an experience like Madison’s.

The organization moved its temporary family homeless shelter Friday to Gonzaga Preparatory School’s gymnasium.

“We’re so excited to have this opportunity to partner with Gonzaga Preparatory School and work with them in new ways to serve our community. It’s a great opportunity for us, for the school, who’s got unusable space right now, and to find that a better way to make that available to the community,” said Dawn Kinder, the vice president of stabilization with Catholic Charities.

The organization’s temporary homeless shelter was originally located on the Holy Names covenant campus near Spokane Falls Community College.

That shelter was only able sleep 21 people in total after social distancing guidelines were put in place.

“On a given day, there were probably three to four families that we weren’t able to serve that were either coming to our headquarter office or coming directly to the site itself,” Kinder said.

The new shelter at Gonzaga Preparatory will be able to help 60 people in total. It will have more bathroom space compared to the previous shelter, and a make shift kitchen.

On the other side of the gym, there will be an isolation space with partitions up for families who need to self quarantine.

“The goal is to be here as long as families need our support and services. I think we’re just excited to be able to expand back to our original capacity and take in those families who we know are forced to sleep outside or couch surf in this kind of interim window, while also putting them at greater risk for COVID,” Kinder said.

The shelter also has services to help families get back on their feet. After months of persevering with help, Madison finally found a home for her family in April.

“Kids are loving it, we got a pool for them to swim in and they enjoy being in their own environment now,” she added.

Catholic Charities said families in need can show up at the shelter at Gonzaga Prep at any time. Non-profits can refer people, as well.

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