WENATCHEE — The Wenatchee City Council on Thursday took another step toward establishing temporary severe-weather shelters in the valley.
The Women’s Resource Center and the People’s Foundation had submitted proposals to the Chelan-Douglas Local Homeless Housing Task Force for up to four such shelters in Wenatchee and East Wenatchee. The task force recommended providing a total of $66,000 in funding, and the City Council on Oct. 10 approved that recommendation.
The program should begin next month at Holy Apostles Catholic Church in East Wenatchee. The People’s Foundation is working on that shelter.
Thursday’s council meeting saw the approval of an ordinance that makes way for the temporary shelters by allowing emergency exemptions to the State Building Code for housing indigent people.
There are some rules, including:
- Health and safety be protected
- A public agency or nonprofit own or administer the building
- The building and fire inspector approve the use.
Shelters would be for nighttime use only and open in extreme cold or heat. Permits would be good for up to five years except with approved renewal, and shelters could be open up to 90 consecutive days and 180 days in a year.
No locations have been nailed down yet in Wenatchee, said Glen DeVries, Wenatchee’s community development director. If they are later, they would fall under the approved exemptions.
DeVries said the city continues to look into a permanent low-barrier shelter and this is a start.
“We’ve been studying what that means and this is a good pilot project to look at the application of that and learn from it, both in contracts and working with a nonprofit agency,” he said. “It’s a missing cog in our wheel as far as a need for a significant component of our homeless community, so I think it’s a really good first step.”
The city also plans to connect people using the temporary shelters with service providers, he said.