Update January 10, 2022: The Young Adult Winter Shelter was moved to the Maritime Heritage Park Pavilion to allow temporary use of the Civic Field locker room as a COVID-19 isolation and quarantine facility.
The City of Bellingham is pleased to announce the opening of the Young Adult Winter Shelter, an emergency shelter program that will operate temporarily at Civic Field during the winter months, in partnership with Northwest Youth Services and Whatcom County.
The program is offered as an overnight-only shelter for up to 25 young adults 18 to 24 years old. The shelter will operate out of the City’s Civic Field locker room. The program started Monday, December 13, and will operate during the winter months through March 1, 2022, offering a low-barrier shelter option to young adults regardless of gender identity.
“Our winter shelter for young adults is another step forward in our collaborative work to expand shelter options that are healthy, safe and offer services to help people find permanent housing,” Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood said. “Young adults are a vulnerable population among people experiencing homelessness. We are pleased to partner with Northwest Youth Services and the county to provide age-appropriate services that we hope will lead to safety and healing, stability and permanent homes.”
In addition to providing emergency shelter at the Civic Field facility, services including meals, showers and restrooms, basic medical supplies, age-appropriate resource referrals, and some service navigation support will be provided.
“The overall goal with operating a winter shelter is to cultivate a temporary safe, welcoming, and healing environment for young adults, during the most critical months in our community,” said Jason McGill, Executive Director of Northwest Youth Services. “In addition, this will be an opportunity to ensure that young adults are connected to other services that Northwest Youth Services offers, so they are able to either jump start or continue on in their healing journey.”
Intake of guests into nightly stays at the Young Adult Winter Shelter will be made on-site at Civic Field, at the locker room located at 1355 Civic Field Way. Check in will occur at 7:30 p.m. daily, and Northwest Youth Services’ staff will be available overnight to support guests until they leave at 8 a.m. Doors to the shelter will close every night at 10 p.m.
Referrals into this program will be made by Northwest Youth Services’ street outreach team and through other existing Northwest Youth Services’ community programs. Additionally, other community emergency housing providers will be able to direct young people to the shelter. The program will have capacity to shelter up to 25 individuals at one time.
The program is operated by Northwest Youth Services and funded through a joint partnership by the City of Bellingham and Whatcom County.
“To offer a safe space for young adults to access during the harshest weather months in our community, we knew that we could not achieve this alone,” McGill said. “Partnering with the city and county was critical. Not only did the city and county offer the necessary resources, but they also ensured that the process to achieving this critical service was a priority.”
Funding for the Young Adult Winter Shelter was approved by the Bellingham City Council at the Oct. 25 regular meeting. The program is funded in part by revenue raised by Washington State HB 1590, the recently passed affordable housing sales tax.
The Young Adult Winter Shelter joins other Northwest Youth Services’ programming specifically targeted towards supporting youth in the community, including the Positive Adolescent Development shelter serving youth between 13 to 17 years old, and the Ground Floor Day Center, which supports’ the needs of homeless youth during the daytime hours.
Community members interested in partnering with the City, county, and community providers to make a positive impact are invited to engage with and support this effort. Northwest Youth Services’ welcomes community support through donations and volunteer service. Visit nwys.org for information about how to get involved.