Homelessness & Housing

There is no single cause of homelessness. Many community partners help provide housing and other services for people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. We work with them to identify community needs and coordinate a county-wide system to respond to homelessness. It will take diverse efforts to achieve our county’s goal of making homelessness a rare, brief, and non-repeated experience.

  • People experience homelessness for many different reasons, and often there is a combination of reasons that lead to housing instability.
  • Services are usually accessed through the Whatcom Homeless Service Center's Coordinated Entry system, except for:
  • The Whatcom County Health and Community Services does not provide direct housing services to individuals or families experiencing homelessness. Instead, we provide funding to partners in the community who offer a wide range of services: rental assistance, transitional housing units, permanent housing units, emergency shelters, and housing stability case management.
  • Tackling homelessness requires teamwork. Meetings of the Coalition to End Homelessness are an excellent way to learn more about homelessness in Whatcom County and to become part of the solution. Community participation/attendance is encouraged; visit oppco.org/whsc/ for more information about meetings.

Core Strategies of the Local Plan to End Homelessness

We use local, state, and federal funding to implement our community’s strategies to reduce homelessness:

  • Collaborate across agencies and social service providers to address the many factors that contribute to homelessness.
  • Enhance housing stability through preventative measures such as increasing financial literacy, economic stability, and medical stability.
  • Ensure that systems are operating effectively and responsibly by providing oversight and transparency.
  • Operate a coordinated entry system that serves as a central point of entry for people seeking services.
  • Promote the development of affordable housing throughout Whatcom County.
  • Provide emergency shelters and interim housing to transition people from homelessness to permanent housing.
  • Provide permanent supportive housing for households with disabilities that need on-going support to maintain housing.
  • Provide financial and problem-solving support and consultation to prevent housing loss and divert households from entering homelessness.
  • Provide time-limited, rapid-rehousing rental assistance and case management for homeless households.

Public Participation

Homelessness affects and is impacted by the entire community. We strive to incorporate voices of the community in our planning and in our activities. We welcome input from partner agencies, elected officials, the business community, concerned citizens, and people with the lived experience of homelessness. The Whatcom County Coalition to End Homelessness is a great way to get involved!

Our housing and homelessness program is guided by the Whatcom County Housing Advisory Committee. This committee meets every other month to discuss emerging trends, funding, and programmatic strategies to end homelessness. These meetings are open to public attendance and participation.

Data About Homelessness

Every year, we work with the Opportunity Council to complete a survey of people who are experiencing homelessness in Whatcom County called the Point-In-Time Count. The Point-In-Time Count is a county-wide effort to better understand how homelessness in Whatcom County, including demographics, root causes, and potential solutions are changing over time. The survey is conducted by staff and volunteers each winter and is used to help plan services and respond to changes in local needs.

Read more about the most recent Point-in-Time results (PDF).

Contracting for Community Partners

You can see current contracting opportunities, such as Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for  housing and homelessness services on Whatcom County’s purchasing page. To view an existing contract with Whatcom County, search our online contracts database.

As a contract requirement, our partners report quarterly data in the following categories: case management, interim housing and permanent supportive housing. Explore the example PDFs below to see what information our partners include in their quarterly reports.

Additional Information