The weather and temperatures have turned! It seems like just yesterday we had odd 70 degree fall temperatures. The western Washington weather shift is tough for almost everyone but it’s particularly difficult and dangerous for people who are homeless.
With leadership from the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) a regional cold weather emergency shelter system has been established. An increase of day and night shelters are open to the public when temperatures reach dangerously cold levels. KCRHA facilitated the cold weather shelter response in the beginning of November when we had our first cold snap and again this first week of December. They distribute information throughout King County about additional day and night shelters openings. When the weather dips again more information will be distributed about how to access services.
I reached out to Amanda Judd with the City of Kirkland to learn more about what our city does for our community when we face extreme weather conditions. The City of Kirkland contributes in several different ways. The largest impact they have is through funding nonprofit service providers that offer day and night shelter services including;Congregations for the Homeless, Sophia Way, New Bethlehem Place, and Friends of Youth. The City also participates in the regional East King County Severe Weather Activation Calls that is led by KCRHA and prompted when extreme weather is on the forecast. It is a regional effort between Cities, providers, and advocates to share updates and resources. Additionally, the City of Kirkland Emergency Manager monitors severe weather forecasts and works with City leaders to determine if additional response needs should be activated including: community warming/cooling centers and distribution of hotel vouchers. Kirkland is special in that we have Community Responders, who are trained and have experience centered in behavioral health. The Community Responders work alongside our first responders to assist folks in accessing the supportive services they need.
Job alert: The city of Kirkland is in the process of posting a new position for a Community Responder, Mental Health Professional to have an even bigger impact on supporting and providing service to people who are homeless. This role is especially important when our community experiences crisis situation such as extreme weather, pandemics, or economic downturns. Often people are unsure of how to help.
Tips on how you can make a difference and support our local nonprofits that provide safe places for people during extreme weather conditions.
Donate what is most needed. Review your local nonprofits website and check out their greatest needs list.
Know when and where is the right and best time to donate.
Donate throughout the year. Consider making a monthly donation.
Make an unrestricted financial contribution.
Share KCRHA cold weather shelter information via your social media outlets.
Follow our local nonprofits on social media. It’s a great place to gather current information about needs.
Know where to turn to get information. 2-1-1 is a great resource.
Listen into your monthly Kirkland Nourishing Network meetings.
Meet your local nonprofit’s leadership team or join a board when the time is right.
If you see someone in need of services, talk to them, they may not know their options.
Safe Parking Program Lake Washington United Methodist Church: Would love handwarmers, gift cards (especially ARCO), sleeping bags, blankets, and shelf stable microwave meals/noodle bowls.
Sophia Way: Has a very clear Amazon wish list that makes it easy to make a quick and direct impact. People going into shelter need essential clothing items and toiletries. The shelter appreciates gift cards and basic household items.
New Bethlehem: This day center and shelter service program needs new socks and underwear, warm layers, basic hygiene and household items. Gift cards for clothing, food, and gas are high priorities.
Friends of Youth: Has specific donation days and invites you to make an appointment. Friends of Youth needs non-perishable snacks and food, gift cards, and basic household and hygiene items.