SWS Location FAQs

Where is the temporary severe weather shelter (SWS) for the 2023-2024 winter season? 

Whatcom County Health and Community Services (The Health Department) will operate a temporary overnight severe winter shelter (SWS) for the 2023-2024 winter season at 810 N. State Street.

When will the SWS open?

The SWS will open on a temporary basis when the weather forecast meets opening criteria. When possible, opening decisions will be made 48 hours in advance in order to support staffing and notifications. 

What times will the SWS operate? 

On nights when it is open, the SWS will operate from 5:00 pm to 8:00 am. This program only operates overnight and is not open during the day. 

How can I find out if the SWS will be open? 

Check the Whatcom County website www.whatcomcounty.us/SWS for information on when the SWS is open, as well as additional information on both temporary severe winter shelters and additional winter shelters that will be open nightly from Dec. 1, 2023 - Feb. 29, 2024. 

How many people do you expect to use the shelter? 

The facility is expected to accommodate up to 45 people. 

What steps will you take to ensure the SWS and its guests are good neighbors in the community? 

Paid on-site staff will manage the severe weather shelter on nights when it is open, with support from community volunteers. Staff will go through a training and orientation that includes first aid, CPR, behavioral health, de-escalation, and Naloxone administration. Uniformed security will be on site. 

How can I talk to someone involved in the SWS if I have a concern? 

If you have concerns about the SWS, please contact us at [email protected] 

Why is WCHCS operating this temporary shelter and not contracting with a local nonprofit? 

During the summer months, Whatcom County Government, in cooperation with the City of Bellingham, published a funding opportunity (a request for proposals) seeking any interested nonprofit or organization willing to operate a severe winter shelter in Bellingham for the 2023-2024 winter season. Government agencies would provide funding for this effort. Unfortunately, no organization responded to the RFP to operate a severe winter shelter in Bellingham. With no nonprofit willing or able to provide this service, Whatcom County Health and Community Services has taken the necessary steps to fill this gap in services and operate a severe weather shelter facility for the 2023-2024 winter season. 

How can community members help our unsheltered neighbors? 

Visit the section “How can I help? What can community members do to support sheltering efforts for unhoused neighbors?” on the winter shelter website: www.whatcomcounty.us/SWS