Letter: Coalition found location for right price at right time

Editor,

This letter comes in response to Mr. Flaaten’s letter regarding the proposed site of Whidbey Homeless Coalition’s emergency shelter, the Haven, on Morris Road.

We appreciate Mr. Flaaten’s concerns regarding our Haven program and hope we can address some of them here.

Because WHC is now in the third phase of applying for the necessary zoning and permits for our shelter, we have had the opportunity to take community questions and feedback at several steps along the way.

Many of your questions can be answered by visiting https://whidbeyhomeless.org/questions-on-the-new-haven-site where we have posted answers to the most frequently asked questions we have received during the process.

Some basics: The Haven is an emergency overnight shelter. This means that we do not permanently house anyone there, but rather register guests each night at a central location and then transport them to the shelter via vans driven by volunteers. This allows our guests privacy and retreat, specifically if they are those guests fleeing a domestic violence situation, as well as allows for our staff and volunteers to do a nightly assessment of each guest before they enter the shelter.

The Haven is a behavior-based shelter, which means that anyone can access our shelter for the night if they present in a safe manner at registration. This pre-screening, along with a well-trained staff and a well-developed set of rules, has allowed us to serve our guests safely since 2017.

You asked, “Why Morris Road?” After years of searching for finances and an affordable location, we were blessed when this building was up for sale at the same time we were given the opportunity to apply for a state Department of Commerce grant. This building provided the exact set up that we had been utilizing in the churches that hosted us in and around Oak Harbor.

We will be able to serve our guests in the same capacity that we currently serve, with even more opportunities around offering showers and a meeting place for service providers from their nearby offices in Coupeville.

Having a permanent location also allows us to relocate our primary offices, currently in Langley, to a more central location.

Whidbey Homeless Coalition believes every person is worthy of shelter. We welcome your participation in our mission to make homelessness a brief and rare experience on Whidbey Island.

Judy Thorslund, founder

Katie Watkins, president

Shellie Moore, vice president

Whidbey Homeless Coaltion

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