Salem Lutheran readies to open warming shelter for Spokane’s homeless
SPOKANE, Wash. — Salem Lutheran Church has welcomed members of the west central Spokane community into its sanctuary for 130 years. This week, it’s finalizing efforts to welcome 60 homeless men and women into its gym, which will function as a city warming shelter this year.
Initially, the shelter was not expected to be ready for four to six weeks as its Salvation Army hired and trained the necessary staff.
Other shelters that will serve as warming centers this year, like Women’s Hearth, are still in the hiring process.
But the Guardian Foundation, which is already working to operate a shelter on Cannon Street, will staff the Salem Lutheran warming center, cutting down the time needed to train employees.
“We’re hoping to open at the end of this week,” said Katie Rivkin, Salem Lutheran’s building administrator.
The church is finalizing some security measures, and buying the necessary supplies for the center, but it’s eager to help fill a need that, the pastor says, aligns closely with their mission and their west central location.
“I knew the heart of the church would jump on this,” said Pastor Liv Larson Andrews.
Their warming shelter will be one of, if not the first, to open since members of Spokane’s homeless population set up Camp Hope, a homeless encampment outside of city hall.
The camp was born both from need — a lack of available shelter beds led the city to temporarily suspend the sit-lie ordinance — and from a desire to raise awareness about homelessness in Spokane.
“Sort of some root level community organizing and people coming together to say this need is very real to make the need visible to bring it into the public eye” Larson Andrews said.
When it opens, the Salem Lutheran warming center will be open from 9:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.
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