While communities nationwide struggle with the rise in homelessness, progress to get Lewis County’s new night-by-night homeless shelter ready to open was discussed at Tuesday night’s Centralia City Council meeting.
City Manager Rob Hill explained the Salvation Army has been helping the city out with shelter services while renovation efforts are underway on the old Lewis County Public Works building on Northeast Kresky Avenue to convert it into the new shelter.
Hill expects the shelter to open once construction is completed by September.
“I’m happy to say that the shelter operations will fall under the Salvation Army. They will be providing those services,” Hill said. “The coordinated entry will be under a company known as HopeSource in Ellensburg.”
Lewis County officials are currently in the process of finalizing interim and final shelter designs, as the county plans to open and operate an interim shelter in the old Washington State Employees Credit Union building next to where the permanent shelter will be.
“The goal is to have (the interim shelter) open by September,” Hill said.
According to Salvation Army Captain Gin Pack, the Salvation Army will be working with both HopeSource and Lewis County to help finalize shelter designs.
“Our key staff, on Thursday, are going to look at Seattle's oldest operating shelter through the Salvation Army, which is the Williams (Booth) Center, as well as the newest, which was kind of birthed out of COVID. That’s in Sodo,” Pack said.
Their goal is to find out what works best in those shelters as well as identify policies and procedures that don’t work so they know what to implement in Lewis County.
Once the new shelter is opened, Pack expects it to be able to house 70 people, although this might change as shelter designs have yet to be finalized.
“We did, in our presentation and proposals, say that it would hold 70 individuals, which sounds like a lot. We’ve never come close to that,” Pack said.
She added this number was chosen to account not only for the current homeless crisis the county is facing but to be able to house people during natural disasters such as floods and wildfires should the need for emergency shelter arise.
Lewis County officials secured state funding for the shelter last month to the tune of $2.5 million, as previously reported by The Chronicle.
The Salvation Army is an international nonprofit committed to meeting human needs without discrimination according to its website. For more information, visit https://centralia.salvationarmy.org/centralias/.
HopeSource is a Kittitas County-based nonprofit focused on providing a wide range of services, including housing assistance, transportation and veterans support, among others, according to its website. For more information, visit https://hopesource.us/.