SEATTLE -- As western Washington is hit with winter storms, social service agencies and volunteers have ramped up their efforts to protect the state's growing homeless population from dangerous winter conditions.
Volunteers with the MORELove Project, many of whom also volunteer for Seattle's Union Gospel Mission, have been doing heavy homeless outreach, delivering hats, gloves, blankets, and other essentials to homeless people living in tents and RVs.
"We directly served about 25 freezing people living in RVs, homemade encampments, under loading docks, and lots of cars," Larry Snyder, one of the volunteers, told Q13 News. "It was unbearably cold, and many people are living in a state of desperation."
In Seattle, a homeless man died from exposure during the first winter storm that hit last week. According to the King County Medical Examiner's Office, 59-year-old Derek Johnson's body was found Thursday morning at the SoDo light rail station in Seattle.
The Salvation Army, King County and Seattle's Department of Human Services have opened emergency shelters at the following locations:
- Seattle Center Exhibition Hall (301 Mercer Street) severe weather shelter has been extended through Sunday February 17th (For more information, see attached flyer). No one will be turned away from this shelter.
- Garfield Community Center (2323 E. Cherry Street) has been opened as a warming and overnight emergency shelter for all populations including families with children, and people living in vehicles. This shelter will operate 24 hours a day through the morning of Tuesday, February 12 (For more information, see attached flyer. People may access shelter at any time. Referral forms are NOT required. A flyer is attached.
- Mary’s Place Family Shelter downtown Seattle- Open 24 hours and people must call the King County Coordinated Family Intake Line at 206-245-1026.
- King County Administrative Building – 500 4th Ave. Seattle, WA 98104 – open for emergency overnight and daytime shelter for adults 18+ starting 7pm Saturday February 9, 2019 through 7am Monday February 11th, 2019.
In Bellingham, the Lighthouse Mission Ministries (LMM) Drop-In Center on Holly Street remains open 24 hours per day and has expanded capacity for the duration of the winter storm.
Friday night, they served 176 guests out of 210 available beds at both the Lighthouse Mission and Fountain Community Church.
The City also continues to have a room in the Bellingham Public Library available during the day for women staying in the night shelter at Fountain Community Church.
Bellingham on Feb. 12 also said it would open an additional shelter at the Maritime Heritage Park pavilion tonight from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. It's located in the park at 500 W. Holly Street.
The Opportunity Council and Lydia Place also continue to provide hotel vouchers, primarily for families in need. In addition, the city provided an additional $10,000 this winter specifically for emergency assistance motel vouchers.
In Thurston County, home to Olympia and a sizable homeless population, officials have extended their "code blue" emergency response protocol.
During this code blue activation period, expanded shelter options are available at the Salvation Army, 1505 4th Ave. E. Olympia for single men and women. Family Support Center’s Pear Blossom Place, 837 7th Ave. SE, Olympia, is available for families with children needing shelter and Community Youth Services, 520 Pear Street SE, Olympia, is available for youth ages 18-24. Trained volunteers will be providing transportation to shelter, and supplies in cities as well as in outlying areas.
Volunteers and donations of blankets, coffee, creamer, cup of soups, and other snacks are needed. Items can be dropped off at the Salvation Army at, 1505 4th Ave. E. Olympia, after 8:00 p.m. during the “code blue” activation.
For volunteer opportunities in Thurston County, click here.
Due to a power outage in Kitsap County, the American Red Cross is opening an emergency shelter at 4 p.m. Feb. 12 at Silverdale United Methodist Church, 9982 Silverdale Way, Silverdale, Washington. Anyone without power may seek shelter.