More Shelter Beds Coming, Homeless Protesters Told To Leave City Hall
Three months after budget cuts at the House of Charity reduced Spokane's shelter capacity by about 150 beds, the city has gained back about 100.
Thursday, the city announced that Salem Lutheran Church in West Central would open Friday night with space for about 60 people. On December 1, a space on West Cannon opened with accommodations for 40.
This news comes nearly two weeks after a mixup where protesters camping outside City Hall were issued notices to pack up their things and leave.
They were protesting the lack of shelter space and the sit-lie ordinance, which bars people from sleeping on sidewalks and in doorways between 6 a.m. and midnight. That ordinance was suspended on November 20 until 200 new spaces become available in shelters, and protesters were allowed to stay at City Hall on November 26 until more beds became available.
As many as two dozen people have been camping outside City Hall for the last several weeks.
"I’m not out here because I choose to be. I’m out here because I make $725 a month disability," said Cynthia Hamm at the Spokane City Council meeting on November 26. She said she recently became homeless when she couldn’t pay her rent in October. "But if I had a place to go I would be there. I would not be here intruding in your areas."
But now, the city says protesters have until December 8 to move or their belongings will be destroyed under the Protecting Public Lands ordinance. It prohibits camping on public property, and a citation would send the offender to community court for resources
"We hope they will make the choice of taking advantage of those warming center locations and get inside to safe, warm spaces overnight," said city spokeswoman Marlene Feist.
She says more shelter sites are in the works and could bring another 140 beds. The city has also committed $1 million to establish a shelter network.