Public Health

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Public Health

Director: Keith Higman


Addressing homelessness has been a priority for Skagit County for some time now. For years, more and more services and resources have been used to support a growing population of individuals experiencing homelessness and behavioral health issues.

For too long, we’ve tried to tackle the same problems in each of our jurisdictions, and too many of our community members continue to suffer. Our first responders and service providers are stretched thin. Our systems of care are fragmented, and people aren't getting the long-term care they need to thrive.

In July 2022, Skagit County Commissioners and the Mayors of Anacortes, Burlington, Mount Vernon, and Sedro-Woolley established North Star, joining forces to coordinate and share dollars, services, and people to create effective care and expand housing options for those experiencing chronic homelessness. We’ve grown from four cities and the county to include dozens of service providers, law enforcement, and others across the county, pooling resources, coordinating action, and streamlining our essential community services.

Instead of managing community issues, we’re working together across jurisdictions to solve them. It’s more effective. It costs less. It gets people the support and services they actually need, when they need it.

Our actions to coordinate crisis response, outreach and recovery services, and housing are part of our big vision for Skagit County: a thriving community for everyone.


North Star is a long-term effort. We’re starting by creating more affordable housing and providing better care for those who are suffering the most.


Skagit County is a special place. We want it to be affordable for everyone to call home. As a first step, we've kicked off a county-wide effort to build more affordable housing by:

  • Jointly funding priority projects.
  • Using more housing vouchers.
  • Identifying more land and considering ways to streamline processes.
  • Improving Coordinated Entry to ensure that accessing housing is quicker and easier for those experiencing homelessness.

Community members suffering from chronic homelessness and behavioral health issues deserve the care they need to thrive. To accomplish this, we’re creating a coordinated and aligned system that:

  • Allows first responders and health care professionals to coordinate and share information.
  • Effectively connects people to appropriate resources and services that support recovery, rather than jail or the emergency room.


Our actions around housing and coordinated care are part of our big vision for Skagit County: a thriving community for everyone.

You can be a part of this public-private partnership to improve the health of the full Skagit community. Stay informed about North Star by subscribing to email updates. For additional information, contact Keith Higman, Skagit County Public Health Director at or (360) 416-1500.



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