After a year at the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds, the Hub City Mission’s cold weather shelter has been deemed a success by its operators.
“The location at the fairgrounds seemed to work really well,” said Josh Gering, the director of Bethel Church’s Hub City Mission, which runs the shelter. “We were able to serve a lot of people.”
The shelter reported providing 1,965 bed nights this winter, opening on Nov. 3 and closing March 25. The shelter, which opens when temperatures drop below 38 degrees, was open 86 nights during the season.
The bed nights figure is down from the 2,760 reported last year, but Gering said that’s due to a milder winter and not the change to location between Centralia and Chehalis.
The shelter was moved last year after complaints that its location in downtown Centralia led to guests loitering in front of businesses. This winter, it was housed in modular buildings at the fairgrounds, increasing capacity by eight beds.
Gering said area leaders seem to be pleased with the move.
“It really got glowing reviews,” he said. “People were really on board with having it there. The fairgrounds, the county, the cities all thought it was a huge win this year.”
The move also helped the shelter expand its reach, Gering said.
“It helped to be able to get in between the two cities, to be able to serve both cities effectively,” he said.
Though the Mission doesn’t keep numbers on where guests come from, Gering said he believes more people from Chehalis were able to use the shelter. Though the move adds distance for those who had used the downtown Centralia location, he said he heard no complaints. The feedback got from residents was praise that the fairgrounds provides a more secure location.
The shelter provides bus passes for guests when they leave, but Gering said transportation will be an area of focus going forward, since the shelter doesn’t open for the night until Twin Transit buses have stopped running. One solution, he said, may be organizing volunteer shuttles.