The Whatcom County Council has approved a lease with State Street Creamery, LLC, to operate Bellingham’s severe winter shelter (SWS) at the company’s 810 N. State Street property for the 2023-2024 winter season. The lease agreement starts Nov. 1, and the site is expected to be ready to host guests by mid-November.
“The RJ Group is pleased to support Whatcom County’s efforts to address severe weather shelter demands this winter,” said Carrie Veldman, Director of The RJ Group, which manages this property on behalf of State Street Creamery, LLC. “Bellingham needed a temporary location for a severe winter shelter, and State Street Creamery LLC has this vacant building that is scheduled to be torn down in 2024 for our proposed multi-family project.”
The Whatcom County Health and Community Services Department (WCHCS) will open the nightly shelter when forecasts indicate weather conditions will meet opening criteria. This facility will not be open every night. When possible, opening decisions will be made 48 hours in advance in order to support staffing and client notifications. Visit www.whatcomcounty.us/SWS for information about nightly winter shelters.
“Our community continues to see unprecedented demand for shelter, especially for people who are unhoused,” said Ann Beck, Community Health and Human Services Manager. “Earlier this year we published a request for proposals to bring in an operator for a severe weather shelter, but that request went unanswered. Since then staff have taken the necessary steps to secure a location and logistics to operate this facility ourselves and meet this community need as best we can. We are working as quickly as possible to make this space ready to welcome guests when weather conditions allow us to open it.”
The facility is expected to accommodate up to 45 individuals on a first-come, first-served basis.
WCHCS is actively recruiting paid staff for evening and overnight shifts and volunteers to help with evening check-in and morning check-out of shelter guests. Staff will undergo training and orientation that includes behavioral health, de-escalation, First Aid, CPR, and Naloxone administration.
Additional Seasonal Winter Shelter
In addition to the severe winter shelter, the City of Bellingham and Whatcom County Health and Community Services (WCHCS) are jointly funding a winter shelter from December 1, 2023 – February 28, 2024, located at Civic Field. The shelter will be operated by Road2Home under a contract administered by the City. The shelter will operate nightly from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. and will accommodate up to 45 patrons.
County Shelter Website Now Live
The website www.whatcomcounty.us/SWS has information on all winter shelters planned for the 2023-2024 winter season. This page will be updated as additional information becomes available. It will also be updated when the WCHCS severe winter shelter is scheduled to be open.
Information on all winter shelters for individuals and families experiencing homelessness at https://www.whatcomcounty.us/sws