Housing and Homeless Services Program

Eviction Prevention Services

Behind in rent? Concerned about eviction? Are you a landlord experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 public health crisis? Please see this flyer for a list of resources available in Whatcom County:

Landlords, there are services available to you as well. Download this flyer (English).

Stay Connected

If you are interested in learning more about Whatcom County’s Housing System, there are several meetings open to the public addressing this issue.

Whatcom County Coalition to End Homelessness: This group meets every other month on the 1st Thursday of the month. (Feb, April, June, August, October, December) The purpose of this meeting is to focus on ending homelessness through education, training and advocacy.  The time is also used to gather input regarding homelessness from service providers and learn more about resources available to support this work. There is time set aside for public comment during each meeting. For more information on this meeting, please contact the Whatcom Homeless Service Center at 360-255-2091.

Whatcom County Housing Advisory Committee: This committee meets every other month and has membership representing the Small Cities, City of Bellingham, Whatcom County, local non-profits, local tribes, housing developers and individuals with lived experience. This group uses Whatcom County’s Plan to End Homelessness as a guide in their decision making around policies, budget recommendations and creating permanent housing solutions. There is time set aside for public comment during each meeting.


About The Whatcom County Health Department Housing And Homeless Services Program

Stable housing is the foundation upon which people build and improve their lives.

The Human Services Housing Program provides opportunities in the community to create safe housing options. Together with public and private partners and with Whatcom County Coalition to End Homelessness, we work to reduce and ultimately end homelessness in our community.

The Housing Program manages state and federal contracts and local recording surcharge funds designated for affordable and homeless housing.  Our office does not provide direct housing assistance or services, however, we maintain a strong relationship with local providers within Whatcom County.

If you are currently experiencing homelessness, or if you encounter someone in a homeless camp who might need help or resources, please call the Opportunity Council's Homeless Outreach Team at 360-312-3717.

Services

The work of the Housing Program: 

  • Facilitates community-wide planning, participates in regional planning
  • Awards funds to organizations that directly assist people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless with housing and services
  • Updates and oversees implementation of the Plan to End Homelessness
  • Conducts annual Point in Time Count of homeless people
  • Acts as liaison to Department of Commerce's Housing Assistance Unit
  • Represents the community as HUD's Continuum of Care lead
  • Provides housing and service related advocacy on behalf of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness

2021 Point In Time Count Report

Opportunity Council, in partnership with Whatcom County Health Department, published the 2021 Point in Time (PIT) Count Report for Whatcom County on July 16, 2021. The report provides a snapshot of persons experiencing homelessness in Whatcom County based on annual surveys conducted each year in late January.
Notable findings this year included:

  • 859 individuals from 625 different households were counted in 2021.
    • These are the highest numbers recorded since the annual counts began in 2008.
    • The increase was caused largely by expanded access to motels (225 more individuals in motels than in 2020).
    • Compared to 2020, the total number of individuals counted increased by 152 and the number of households increased by 70.
  • The number of individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness in tents, vehicles, and other unconventional locations remained unchanged from 2020 at 218.
  • Use of shelter (motel rooms, emergency shelters and transitional housing) increased by more than 30% from 489 individuals in 2020 to 641 individuals in 2021.
    • Most of this increase is attributable to the expansion of a motel-based emergency shelter program for families with children that was made possible by new pandemic-related resources. The number of homeless families with children sleeping in shelters increased from 64 in 2020 to 96 in 2021. Motel use increased from 8 households in 2020 to 88 households in 2021.
  • Unaccompanied (single) adults remain the majority of individuals experiencing homelessness and made up 82% of all households counted in 2021.
  • Individuals ranged from 0-87 years old, with a median age of 36.
  • 1,347 households (including 2,267 unique individuals) received some form of housing support through the network of housing providers in Whatcom County in 2020.

The methodological changes that were necessary due to COVID-19 make it challenging to draw any conclusions about the year-over-year trends in homelessness. Additionally, because the pandemic has not yet ended, it is difficult to predict how this health crisis will affect homelessness in the future.

“We’ll need to wait and see how trends change in future counts,” says Chris D’Onofrio, housing specialist with Whatcom County Health Department. “There were too many changes in 2021 to be able to say definitively how COVID-19 has affected people experiencing homelessness in Whatcom County. But what we do know is that despite the high number of people counted in 2021, our community’s effort makes a significant difference. We’re grateful for the hard work of our housing partners that prevent housing loss, create pathways for re-housing, and help to stabilize thousands of Whatcom County residents each year. We’re excited by new local, state, and federal resources that will allow us to strengthen existing programs and pilot new ones in the coming months and years. We expect that additional funding, together with a strong commitment from local leaders to create more affordable housing, will allow our partners to provide more assistance than ever before and will lead to lower numbers of people experiencing homelessness in the future.”

Racial inequities in homelessness rates continue to show disproportional effects on people of color in Whatcom County. Over the last year, system administrators have further explored data related to these disparities, adjusted intake processes, built relationships with local tribal administrators, and begun working towards creating greater access to homeless housing and other services for local tribal members. The extent of progress in reducing the disparities remains unclear due in part to challenges with collecting data during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For those at risk of homelessness, resources are available to help. Households who fell behind in rent during the pandemic are being screened for assistance with rent and utilities by calling the Opportunity Council at 360-746-3826.

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development requires that the nationwide Point in Time Count occur on a specific night every year. In Whatcom County, this effort is the result of coordination between housing service providers, outreach specialists, and administrative staff. This year, surveys were abbreviated and outreach was limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more about this year’s findings in the Point in Time Count Report.

Performance Measures

Contracted housing partners receiving Consolidated Homeless Grant (CHG) funding through Whatcom County Health Department. Please access updated CHG Mandatory Performance Measures from the Washington State Department of Commerce specific to Whatcom County using the link below:

CHG Performance Measures (Whatcom County)

Department of Commerce Housing Website

Whatcom County Case Management Report Template

Whatcom County Emeregency Shelter and Transitional Housing Report Template

Whatcom County Permanent Supportive Housing Report Template

Housing Resources

If you're looking for a place to rent, click HERE for a list of local housing to try.  If you are at risk of becoming homeless, please contact the Whatcom Homeless Service Center as soon as possible to learn more about available resources.

Documents and Partners

Local Plan to End Homelessness


City of Bellingham Housing and Human Services

 https://www.cob.org/services/housing


Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services

http://www.dvsas.org 


Northwest Youth Services

http://www.nwys.org/


Whatcom Homeless Service Center

https://www.oppco.org/whsc/