The region’s first major storm blanketed Federal Way in snow Monday morning, prompting the mayor to activate a severe weather overnight shelter.
For the first time in city history, people experiencing homelessness will have a warm place to sleep overnight on Monday and Tuesday at the Federal Way Day Center. The day center recently joined the line-up of three churches that partnered with the city to provide overnight shelter during severe weather.
While the city’s initial plan was for Family Life Church, Church of the Nazarene and Brooklake Church to offer shelter on a rotating basis, the Federal Way Day Center is now the primary location, said Sarah Bridgeford, the city’s Human Services manager.
“The benefit is they already have a lot of other services on site,” Bridgeford said, noting there are showers, laundry facilities and restrooms available at the day center.
Catholic Community Services, which provides staffing for the day center and will also staff the overnight shelter, is also familiar with other homeless services in the area. Opening the overnight shelter at the day center would allow staff to build rapport with homeless individuals and further connect them with those services, Bridgeford noted.
“Our church partners have been gracious,” she added. “We’ve had communication with them and they are ready to go as well. It gives us a lot more flexibility to have the day center as the first location.”
Each of the overnight shelter locations can accommodate approximately 30 people. If the day center reaches capacity on Monday night, the city will also activate a second location at the Family Life Church on Tuesday night, Bridgeford said. She doesn’t anticipate the city will need to activate a third location at any given time, but those resources are available should the need arise.
Per the city’s contract with Catholic Community Services, the city will fund $18,000 to provide staffing and supplies at the shelters for up to 18 nights throughout the winter season.
The overnight shelter will open at 8:30 p.m. on Monday at the day center, located at 33505 13th Place S., Suite D, in Federal Way. The shelter will close at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, however, Bridgeford said guests will be able to stay on site for three hours until the day center opens again at 10 a.m.
This is another benefit of opening the shelter at the day center, Bridgeford said.
“If we have the shelter on church property and they close at 7 a.m., people need to go somewhere. [The day center] gives people a place to stay without going out unless they need to for other reasons.”
Catholic Community Services are still working out the logistics of where people will stay during the three hours before they reopen at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Bridgeford added.
While full meals will not be offered to guests at the day center, snacks and warm options will be available, including coffee and food that can be heated up in the microwave.
The Federal Way Day Center still needs help from the community, including donations of blankets, coffee, granola bars, cup of noodles and other snacks.
In addition, the day center seeks volunteers who can provide outside laundering services as both washing machines at the facility are temporarily out of service.
Bridgeford said city staff is closely tracking the weather throughout the week and they will notify their shelter partners at least 12 hours in advance if the mayor activates the shelters again later this week, per the city’s shelter agreement.
The Mirror will provide updates of future overnight shelter openings, as will the city of Federal Way and other partners.
How to help
To help with donations, volunteerism or other support for the severe weather shelters, please contact the Federal Way Day Center between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at 253-893-7895. Outside those hours contact Bridgeford at Sarah.Bridgeford@cityoffederalway.com or 253-835-2651.