With temperatures in recent days dipping below 34 degrees, the South County We All Belong emergency cold weather shelter has opened its doors to the unhoused community.
The 34-degree temperature activates the overnight shelter at Maple Park Church – located 17620 60th Ave. W. in Lynnwood – where people experiencing homelessness can escape the cold for a night and grab a bite to eat.
Lisa Utter, who chairs the shelter volunteer board, said the shelter usually has a comfortable capacity for approximately 30 people, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic that number was reduced by about half. She added that volunteers were able to make some adjustments to allow 23 people to comfortably sleep in the shelter at a time.
Since many of the shelter volunteers are seniors, Utter said there has been a decline in the number of people able to help out — and the recent snow didn’t make it easier. However, she said they are getting by.
“It’s going quite well so far,” Utter said. “We’ve been able to provide shelter for almost all of the people who have shown up.”
Vaccines are not required for the shelter, but Utter said all volunteers and people who come to the shelter are required to wear masks, which are available upon arrival. Extra ventilation has also been added.
The shelter opens at 7 p.m. and is only available in the evenings. Transportation is provided to and from the shelter. Those needing transportation should meet at one of the listed locations precisely at the pick-up time:
- Lynnwood City Hall, 19100 44th Ave. W, Lynnwood
- Trinity Lutheran Church 6215 196th St. S.W., Lynnwood
- Value Village, near the sign on the west side of Highway 99 at 172nd Street Southwest, Lynnwood
Van pickups and check-in take place between 7-7:30 p.m. except on Wednesday when pickups and check-in occur between 9-9:30 p.m. For additional information on specific times, visit the shelter website at weallbelong.org
In addition to the overnight shelter, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Edmonds this week is offering a warming shelter open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. St. Alban’s is located at 21405 82nd Pl. W. in Edmonds.
Unhoused individuals can also take daily showers at the hygiene center, located at the former Lynnwood emissions test station. It was repurposed last year as a place for homeless people to use the restroom, get a shower and pick up basic hygiene products, food and clothes.
The shelter is sponsored in part by the Jean Kim Foundation for Homeless Education. Though space is limited with two showers available at the center, Jean Kim Foundation Board Gov. Joan Jolly said they are working to ensure people have enough time to fully dry off before going back outside.
Jolly said that they are coordinating with the overnight shelter pick-up service and local bus schedules to help people access transportation between the center and shelters.
“We’re going to be watching the schedules of the shelters and the bus schedules so that people have warm transportation to daily warming shelters or to the evening shelter,” she said.
During winter, the hygiene center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Donations — including warm clothes, toiletries and food — can be made at the center, located at 19726 64th Ave. W. in Lynnwood.
–Story and photos by Cody Sexton