New Hope Christian Fellowship to provide temporary shelter for homeless families

Church hopes to have building ready by mid-January.

Homeless families in Federal Way may soon have a temporary shelter.

New Hope Christian Fellowship Church, 31411 Sixth Ave. S., will open its doors to house families in need of a warm place to stay overnight through March.

Officials hope to have the shelter running by mid-January.

Last January, Mayor Ferrell launched the Homeless Mothers and Children Initiative, chaired by Ferrell, Deputy Mayor Susan Honda and Sharry Edwards, a local nurse and advocate for the homeless. The initiative’s main objective has been to find a location for a shelter for families.

Local organization Reach Out provides overnight shelters for men and women at local churches between October and March each year, but there is currently no shelter for families with children.

In November, HMCI hosted a luncheon for faith-based leaders in the community.

“After that luncheon, we compiled a list of faith-based leaders who attended and those that did not attend, over 200 people, and sent out an email to all those people seeking an inventory of what everyone was able to do and whether there were churches that would be willing and able to house a shelter for the winter,” Yarden Weidenfeld, Ferrell’s senior policy adviser, told the City Council at its meeting on Tuesday night.

Weidenfeld said Rick Miller, pastor at New Hope, responded to the request.

“They see it as their primary mission to help people in need, particularly homeless people,” Weidenfeld said.

The church already serves as an emergency shelter for men and women during inclement weather and offers showers and laundry services for the homeless each week.

Ferrell allocated $15,000 from his discretionary budget to reimburse New Hope for utility costs, food and supplies, such as cots. Volunteers will staff the shelter overnight.

“There really is a hole in services or gap in services that really is not addressed in our community with homeless mothers and children,” Ferrell said.

HMCI has been in discussion with Mary’s Place, which operates day and overnight shelters in Seattle and King County, about opening a permanent shelter for families in the city.

“We are still actively engaged in that, but that is still long term,” Weidenfeld said.

It is important for homeless families to have a place to go, Honda said.

“Homelessness can happen to anyone, and every child deserves to have a safe and warm place to sleep,” she said.