New Facility to Offer a Range of Services for Individuals Experiencing Homelessness
The Way Station: A resting point on the journey.
People experiencing homelessness face disproportionate challenges to maintaining their health and wellbeing. When they suffer an illness or injury and must seek care, unhoused individuals’ health care outcomes are made worse by a lack of specialized healthcare, access to basic hygiene facilities, and medical respite beds. Health care providers worry about the effect of these gaps in patient care on the health of individuals and about the spread of disease resulting from inadequate sanitation. Simply providing access to shower and laundry facilities, greatly reduces the risk of infection to the individual and to the community at large. Providing medical respite for those too ill or frail to recover from a medical event but not sick enough to stay in a hospital, can also greatly improve the healing process for those who would otherwise have to try to convalesce on the streets.
Recognizing this need in our region, Unity Care NW, Opportunity Council, PeaceHealth, and the Whatcom County Health Department, have partnered to repurpose Whatcom County’s 1500 N. State Street property as the location for a collaborative project. The Way Station will provide individuals and families experiencing homelessness with a range of health and social services to assist their transition to sustainable housing. This unique facility will serve people in need of hygiene, medical and behavioral health care, and/or medical respite. 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:
- 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 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.
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. Most recently, The Way Station 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.
“Homelessness is a crisis, and it is solvable. Housing with supportive services solves homelessness. That’s why, for the first time the federal government is deploying targeted resources to meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness in unsheltered settings or in rural areas,” said HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “With these grants and vouchers, HUD is filling this gap and giving communities the resources and tools to improve housing and health outcomes for people on the streets, in encampments, under bridges, and in rural areas.”
State Senator. Sharon Shewmake, who secured a $4M funding in the state’s capital budget request for The Way Station in 2022. said, “This project hits it all— caring for community, saving money and helping to get people better and in housing.”
“Our partners have been instrumental in building momentum to get this project off the ground.” said County Executive Satpal Sidhu. “I also greatly appreciate our legislators’ efforts in Olympia to secure state funding that, together with local resources, will help us address a gap in services for the unhoused.”
The partnering organizations have been engaged since the start in researching models, touring facilities, and envisioning The Way Station.
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.
Final building permits were issued in May of 2023 issued and renovations will begin in August of 2023 with an opening date scheduled for 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
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 August 11, 2023. All efforts were taken to ensure accuracy of this list. Please contact Development@ucnw.org with any questions.