When shelters fill up, this is how some of Spokane’s homeless stay warm

SPOKANE, Wash. — With nearly all homeless shelters and warming centers around Spokane at capacity and temperatures dipping into the teens, the homeless are bracing for more cold nights and doing everything they can to stay warm.

For some, that means digging through trash to find cans to build fires.

“My hands are dry, the fingers are cracking, it’s tough,” said Georgia, as she prepared to light a small can fire in a downtown ally. “I have to find wood, candle wax, cardboard to make it burn longer.”

As of 8:30 p.m. Monday, Eastern Washington 2-1-1 reported only nine beds open in the city’s entire shelter/warming center network. All were facilities exclusively for women. Georgia said the shelters she went to were full.

“If you want a bed you’ve got to be there three hours before the door opens to sign in.”

As temperatures continue to drop, the City of Spokane expects to see a surge of people like Georgia who desperately need help — that’s why the city is spending $45,000 dollars to open 50 more beds at City Gate for at least two months. Georgia would like to see even more beds available.

According to the city, those 50 beds would be for women, freeing up more space for homeless men in other locations. The city didn’t say when those new beds would be available.