Protesters gather outside city hall, council says shelter beds are on the way
SPOKANE, Wash. — The small crowd gathered outside Spokane’s city hall on Thursday didn’t have to go very far to use their voices- many of them have been camped outside the building all week.
The city council suspended the sit-and-lie ordinance last week, as there was a shortage of shelter space available for the homeless population. Some warming centers are open, and other is set to open this weekend, but the city lost about more than 100 beds in September upon the end of the 24/7 shelter program at House of Charity. A new shelter is expected to make up for those beds but not until the summer.
On Monday, the council passed an emergency budget ordinance to allocate funds for warming centers the city plans to operate. A special meeting was scheduled for Thursday to discuss a contract for a warming shelter at Salem Lutheran Church. The meeting was deemed unnecessary and the contract was approved- adding new shelter beds within the week.
Council president Ben Stuckart said the city is in contract negotiations to operate a warming shelter on a site on the city’s west side. With the beds at Salem Lutheran, Stuckart said that could bring 100 new beds to the city in the next week.
He said the city has also been talking to four other agencies about the issue which- if all four agencies sign on- would put the new beds over the 250 mark.
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