Nearly 70 members of the local faith-based and nonprofit community packed council chambers at City Hall on March 27 to discuss solutions for severe weather sheltering for the homeless in Federal Way. Photo courtesy of the city of Federal Way

Nearly 70 members of the local faith-based and nonprofit community packed council chambers at City Hall on March 27 to discuss solutions for severe weather sheltering for the homeless in Federal Way. Photo courtesy of the city of Federal Way

City, organizations mull plan for severe weather sheltering

Mayor Jim Ferrell said he was ‘gratified’ at the large event turnout.

Nearly 70 members of local nonprofits and churches met with city officials on March 27 to discuss the need for homeless sheltering in the event of another severe weather emergency.

The city’s need for a concrete homeless sheltering response in the case of inclement weather became apparent during February’s snowstorm that ravaged western Washington.

At the time, Federal Way did not have a system in place to get people off the street overnight during such dangerous conditions.

The Federal Way Community Center was opened as a warming center during the storm, but was only in operation during daylight hours and closed at 5 p.m., sending people back onto the street during the colder nights.

The storm itself, which was dubbed “snowmaggedon,” brought over 14 inches of snow to the area, marking it the snowiest recorded February for this region. The storm was so severe residents were snowed in in some areas and people swarmed to supermarkets to stock up on necessities.

In response to the snowstorm and the city’s need for overnight homeless sheltering, Mayor Jim Ferrell convened the organizations to brainstorm ideas for providing shelter to the homeless during severe weather.

Several church organizations and nonprofits present offered to open their doors during such an event.

Pastor Dan Larson with Family Life Community Church is excited to partner with the city to help the homeless community.

“Lot of good questions, lot of positive feedback,” Larson said of the event. “It sounds like the city and the mayor’s office want to coordinate more.”

Ferrell said he was “very gratified” to see so the large event turnout.

Deputy Mayor Susan Honda also appreciated how many community members showed up in support for the homeless population.

“Each group brings a unique perspective of the homeless issue to the table,” she said. “Learning what other churches are doing in Federal Way helps the faith-based organizations and the city know if there are services that we are not providing and let’s us fill those needs.”

The city will have a plan in place by August, well before the colder months so the city and the volunteer organizations can be ready for potential shelter needs, he said.

Ferrell added he does not foresee the city participating in building a shelter any time soon.

Instead, he views the city’s role to be one of support and resources for other organizations who will be hosting homeless people or those in need of future severe weather instances.

Councilmember Dini DuClos appreciated so many churches stepping up to help during future bad weather events.

“The churches were very helpful and made committments when severe eather comes up and endangers life,” DuClos said, remarking that the meeting also helped the city identify which organization provided what kind of service.

Ferrell stressed that when this program is in place it will be only for severe weather when life safety is in jeopardy, approximately 12 to 15 nights per year.

The mayor also said he will be the one who makes the decision whether or not the volunteer organizations need to open their doors.

“It needs to be something beyond cold weather or precipitation, when life safety becomes an issue,” he said.

As part of the city’s efforts, city employees will be placed at whichever shelter opens during any severe weather instances to help provide resources and support such as cots, blankets and pillows, he said. The city will select organizations who volunteer to open their doors to those in need on a rotating basis.

The city has also provided $40,000 for FUSION’s Econo Lodge renovations to help combat the homeless issue.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Federal Way man charged with murder for shooting at Kent bus stop

Father killed Nov. 26, 2021 at location where his sons were shot, injured 2 days earlier

Federal Way doctor settles with Department of Justice over allegations of ‘useless’ urine drug tests

The doctor allegedly billed government health programs for urine drug test that were never tested or tested too late to be useful, according to the DOJ.

File photo
County auditor finds agencies fall short on emergency services

The auditor’s office recommends clarifying responsibilities and accountability for effective planning.

Blueprint for building community: How the redevelopment of Federal Way’s downtown shapes the future

City planners to present vision for redeveloping Federal Way’s downtown corridor at Jan. 18 special meeting.

The Enumclaw library is passing out free at-home rapid COVID tests. Photo by Ray Miller-Still
8 King County libraries passing out at-home rapid COVID tests

Supply is limited; patrons are asked to limit themselves to two tests per household.

During a news conference Thursday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee explains the deployment of the National Guard to hospitals to assist with the coronavirus surge. (TVW) 20220113
Surgeries paused, National Guard deployed to assist hospitals

King County health officials say 1 in 7 ICU and acute-care hospital beds are occupied by a COVID patient.

Federal Way police are now wearing body cameras

The goal is to have all uniformed personnel wearing body cameras by Feb. 1, department officials say.

Credit: Pixabay
Prosecutor alleges Seattle man recorded Muckleshoot Casino employee using toilet

Man pleads not guilty to first-degree voyeurism charge in December 2021 incident at Auburn casino

Screenshot from City of Kent Facebook Page
Trash piles up in King County neighborhoods after agency postpones service for weeks

Collection company initially cited weather as the reason, but now a strike interferes.

Most Read