Opening This Fall: New Facility to Offer a Range of Services for Individuals Experiencing Homelessness
The Way Station: A resting point on the journey.
People experiencing homelessness often struggle with maintaining their health due to various challenges. Access to specialized healthcare, basic hygiene facilities, and medical respite beds is limited, worsening health outcomes. Gaps in patient care can have devastating impacts on the health of individuals and inadequate sanitation contributes to the spread of disease more broadly. Providing access to shower and laundry facilities, greatly reduces infection risks.
Recognizing this need in our region, Unity Care NW, Opportunity Council, PeaceHealth, and the Whatcom County Health Department, have partnered to establish The Way Station at Whatcom County’s 1500 N. State Street property. This innovative facility will offer anyone experiencing homelessness hygiene, medical and behavioral health care. Patients experiencing homelessness who are discharged from the hospital can
recuperate and heal safely at The Way Station and access wrap around services, including help into long-term housing.
Project Scope & Services
The partnering organizations have been engaged since the start in researching models, touring facilities, and envisioning The Way Station and have identified the following programs and services to offer on-site:
- Medical and Behavioral Health care services provided by Unity Care NW with expanded access to laboratory testing for illness, vaccine administration, and health monitoring.
- Hygiene services: restrooms, showers, and laundry facilities.
Medical Respite Center
- Medical respite care staffed 24-7 to provide a quiet environment for recovery from a medical event.
- Case management services linking visitors and respite residents with social services and healthcare resources.
- Connections to stable housing from Housing Case Managers from the Opportunity Council who will offer supportive pathways for patients to transition out of homelessness.
Hiring for some staff positions for Unity Care NW’s health and hygiene programs at The Way Station has begun and more will become available as the opening date approaches. Current employment opportunities can be found on Unity Care NW’s website.
The project has been made possible by generous contributions from supporters and local donors (see full list below) and has been awarded government funding at the federal, state, and local level. The Way Station has received a grant for $1.5M from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as part of an historic funding package to help communities across the country provide housing and supportive services to people in unsheltered settings.
State Senator, Sharon Shewmake, who secured a $4M funding in the state’s capital budget request for The Way Station. Said of her support of the facility, “This project hits it all— caring for community, saving money and helping to get people better and in housing.”
Location and Site Renovation
The Whatcom County owned site provides adequate square footage to support the planned services and is close to transportation facilities and other social and health services including the Opportunity Council and Unity Care NW.
Renovations began in August of 2023 with an opening date scheduled for the fall of 2024. As part of the permitting process, a Way Station Operations Plan was submitted to provide an overview of the facility’s policies, staff roles, guest agreement, emergency protocols.
To receive updates about The Way Station, email Marissa McGrath, Communications & Public Relations Associate at email@example.com.
We extend our deepest appreciation for these partners and supporters of the Way Station
Bellingham Bay Rotary
Chuckanut Health Foundation
Community Health Plan of Washington
First Federal Community Foundation
Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Jerry H. Walton Foundation
Molina Healthcare Of WA
Mount Baker Foundation
North Sound ACH
Puget Sound Energy and Puget Sound Energy Foundation
The Tax Payers of Washington State
The Timken Foundation of Canton
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Don and Karen Berry
Brockmann Family in loving memory of Jason Brockmann
Mark and Charlene Brooks
Don and Michelle Cook
Jason and Angela Gum
Will and Jodi Joyce
Kelly and Kevin Kaemingk
Jan Klineburger in memory of Larry Thompson
Steve and Cathi LeCocq
Tami J. Livingston
Wanda McGlasson and Alan Heezen
Laird McHattie and Nathan Marino
Neal and Carol Nicolay
Marry and Buzz Ostlund
Sharon Shewmake and Nick Hutchinson
Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace in honor of Sr. Marilee Murphy and Sr. Andrea Nenzel
Rebecca Frevert and Desmond Skubi in memory of Dr. Milt Schayes and Larry Thompson
The Stuit Family
Mistie and Michael Taylor
Tamara Tregoning and Caleb Sanders
Whatcom Community Foundation Funds:
Posel Gockley Fund
Elizabeth & Richard Gossett Foundation Fund
Heather Whitaker, ARNP
Current as of February 26, 2024. All efforts were taken to ensure accuracy of this list. Please contact Development@ucnw.org with any questions.