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April 26, 2022

Skagit County Launches North Star Project to Address Behavioral Health and Homelessness

Skagit County has recently launched the North Star Project, a multi-phased whole-of-government effort to address behavioral health and homelessness challenges in our community.

Homelessness and behavioral health have been important issues in Skagit County for many years. As most know, they are also incredibly complex issues to tackle. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has only added to local housing challenges, creating, and exacerbating mental health issues and substance use disorders in our community. We honor the County organizations and City leaders who have worked tirelessly to seek solutions.

The overarching mission of the North Star project is to make addressing homelessness and behavioral health a top priority, consolidated at the highest levels. City Mayors, County Commissioners, and Public Health are joining together and aligning forces to work towards a healthy and thriving community. This mobilization of combined forces is the best method to ensure the well-being of every Skagitonian as the County works through these complicated challenges.

In working together, existing strategies will be evaluated, new approaches will be implemented when necessary, and a plan to ensure tangible results will be put into action. Through the entirety of this project, best practices will be incorporated; feedback and lessons learned from stakeholders, advocacy groups, and other communities will take precedence as strategies are identified.

We also recognize that the goals of this project cannot be successfully achieved without prioritizing the needs of our most underserved community members. Equitable approaches for removing barriers to care and services will be at the forefront of all strategies being developed.

Skagit County is contracting with Tenfold Health, a team of experts who will lead our community through a co-design planning and assessment process. The work will occur in two phases over the course of roughly 24 months:

  • Phase 1 (currently underway): Develop a shared North Star vision for the County
  • Phase 2: Implementation of Skagit County’s North Star Framework, including governance, roles, and resources

The County will be using ARPA funds to support Phase 1 and 2 of this project.

For more information about the North Star project, go to https://www.skagitcounty.net/Departments/Health/NorthStarProject.htm.