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WCCH
 
Whatcom County Coalition for the Homeless (WCCH)

The Whatcom County Coalition for the Homeless (WCCH) is a consortium of public and private agencies and non-profits that collaborate to create a system of housing and services, with the ultimate goal of moving homeless families and individuals to permanent housing and self-sufficiency. This system is called the Continuum of Care.

The WCCH meets the first Thursday of every other month to network services, provide public information forums, and to address the community's homeless issues as they arise. Staff from the Whatcom County Health Department provides leadership, coordination, and administrative support to the Coalition, and also works with agencies to secure federal homeless housing and service program grants.

For more information contact:

Human Service Division
Whatcom County Health Department
509 Girard Street
Bellingham, WA 98225

(360) 676-6724

History of the Coalition
In the fall of 1994, after working together for many years to collaborate on providing comprehensive housing services, shelter providers formed the Whatcom County Homeless Coalition.

In March, 1996 the Coalition partnered with the City of Bellingham and began the process to draft a local Continuum of Care Plan (CoC Plan) that would guide them in their work toward ending homelessness. To develop the CoC Plan, the group used a model developed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The community-wide planning process brought together housing and support service providers, including representatives from mental health and substance abuse programs. This was the first time these entities met together to address the comprehensive needs of homeless people in Whatcom County.

By 1997, the Coalition had changed its name to the Whatcom County Coalition for the Homeless. Through collaborative efforts utilizing the Continuum of Care, HUD funds had provided funding for Northwest Youth Services Transitional Housing, Opportunity Council case management services for homeless families, in addition to the Shelter Plus Care Program, which subsidizes transitional and permanent housing units for the mentally ill.

Additional WCCH projects included creating a Continuum of Care that focused specifically on homeless youth, and the annual completion of a homeless survey count. This count provides essential supportive information for the Coalition's annual federal grant applications.

Activities
The WCCH provides community education and advocacy for homeless people along the entire spectrum of housing needs—from preventing homelessness to accessing permanent housing.

The WCCH oversees the implementation of the local Continuum of Care (the array of local services available) and makes recommendations for filling gaps in services. The Coalition also works collaboratively to access funding opportunities which meet the greater needs of the community.

Coalition members provide assistance to community groups and individuals interested in starting new housing projects or support services by sharing their experience on projects, funding options, and strategies for successful programs.

Monthly Meetings
The WCCH meets the first Thursday of every other month (February, April, June, August, October & December) from 3:30 – 5:00 PM at the:

YWCA
1026 N. Forest Street
Bellingham, WA 98225

Meetings focus on coordinating program planning between member agencies, identifying gaps or concerns in the delivery of housing and services to the homeless, and developing new projects. Presentations on revelatopics are given at meetings, and attendees are given the opportunity to give brief agency updates and make announcements to the group.

A Steering Committee meets every other month (January, March, May, July, September & November) to coordinate the direction and work of the Coalition, and ad hoc subcommittees are formed as needed to focus on specific topics and issues.