‘This church opened their doors to these people’: Temporary warming center opens in Downtown Spokane amid low temperatures


The pop-up shelter has reached capacity for the last two nights.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Freezing temperatures have swept through Spokane the last few evenings, leaving many homeless people looking for a warm place to shelter.

The city has said they’ve created additional space to help through conditions but Westminster Congregational has also opened their doors as a temporary location downtown.

Last night, 30 people used this building as a resource.

Tonight they’ve filled up once again. With COVID-19 protocols in place, they’ve even had to turn some away.

“Someone new comes in, there’s sheets, and we hand out blankets to anyone that’s leaving,” said Julie Garcia.

Almost a year after running their first warming center. Jewels Helping Hands are back in another shelter.

This time in response to record-breaking snow that fell last weekend.

“This church opened their doors to these people,” Garcia explained. “They didn’t have to, it didn’t benefit them in any way.”

Her outreach program will be running the shelter until Saturday. Serving as a layer of protection for anyone unable to find shelter elsewhere. 

According to city officials, there’s been available space at shelters in Spokane.

“Communication is key,” said City Communication Director Brian when asked how they could ensure no bed goes unused. 

“There’s no one size fits all model here so it’s great that others in the community are able to work with churches and find additional space for people to be out of the cold.”

Barriers have been lowered to take more people in, but while there have been extra beds, finding where to go and lack of shelter is a challenge that still exists.

Jewels are working to decrease that problem. Even if it means coming out of their pocket.

“Everything here is funded by us and we’re offering that to any church who is willing to open up to even a 25 person capacity.”

Many that have utilized the facility don’t normally turn to shelters when they need help but have said they felt comfortable under Garcia’s leadership.

“This is the importance of relationship building,” she said. “This is why outreach and what we do is so important because we have a relationship with these folks”

Snow season officially begins on November 15th. 

Other shelters like truth ministries have waived entrance fees during the cold snap. Union Gospel Mission Men’s Crisis has relaxed entrance requirements since the snowfall. 



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