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March 16, 2023

Funding Secured for Upcoming Shortfall Faced by Skagit First Step Center

City Mayors and County Commissioners, in partnership with Skagit County Public Health, have worked together to solve the upcoming funding shortfall faced by Skagit First Step Center. Committed to North Star Project efforts to collectively address homelessness and behavioral health, leaders embraced the challenge to meet the needs of community members experiencing homelessness.

Through partnership with the Washington State Department of Commerce (DOC)’s Office of Family and Adult Homelessness, Skagit County Public Health was successful in obtaining funding for the shelter through June 2023. Funding challenges would not have been addressed without the positive and powerful collective response of North Star Project leaders, County Commissioners, and City Mayors.

Said City of Burlington Mayor, Steve Sexton: “This funding is critical to continuing services unabated at the Skagit First Step Center. It is encouraging that the Commerce Department sees the value of services provided by the center. This realization should escalate the success of future grant applications.”

Located in Burlington, the Skagit First Step Center is a 24/7 emergency temporary homeless center, providing 45 individual pallet shelter cabins and 25 additional beds. Along with safe, warm places to sleep, the site offers behavioral health support, employment services, and other basic necessities that people need to live. At present, it is one of the few resources available to those in Skagit County looking for a safe place to stay overnight. 

The cost of operating the center typically falls to document recording fees, real estate transactions, and state and federal grant funding. Increased costs, a down housing market, and lack of state and federal funding have contributed to the funding shortfall.

North Star Project leaders identified Skagit First Step Center as a vital resource in our community, providing essential services to those struggling the most. It is understood that safe and secure housing is of paramount importance; a necessity to ensure one’s ability to live and thrive.

“Securing this funding has been a collaborative effort” said Board of County Commissioners Chair Ron Wesen. “Doing so required all jurisdictions to work together to settle priorities and solve problems.”

To learn more about the Skagit First Step Center, visit www.skagitfriendshiphouse.org/skagit-first-step-center.html. For more information about the North Star Project, go to www.skagitcounty.net/northstar or call Skagit County Public Health at (360) 416-1500.