Burien’s severe-weather shelter opened this year on Jan. 12, 2020, providing a professionally staffed space for people to sleep as temperatures dipped below freezing and snow fell across King County.

King County Councilmember Joe McDermott this week announced a $30,000 grant from the county to provide staffing and support for the shelter. Churches and community members ran a shelter in 2019 and created the framework to expand with staffing from Catholic Community Services this winter.

The shelter housed 37 people on one of the nights it was opened, and most evenings served more than 30 people. The shelter remained open for five nights and was coordinated with other severe-weather shelters in South King County.

This shelter is low-barrier and the only one serving single adults and couples in Burien. The funding was allocated through the city of Burien and is the first government support for a severe weather shelter in the city. Councilmember McDermott provided the grant through a special fund given to each King County Council district to address housing stability and homelessness efforts.

“I’m proud to support the work that the community and City of Burien are doing to provide shelter and services to people experiencing homelessness,” McDermott said. “We talk about the regional impact of homelessness, but we can’t lose sight of the local impact, and that it is our neighbors and friends who are out in the cold. This shelter is a reflection of the hard work happening in this community to support them.”

The grant is enough to pay for 21 nights of shelter service in Burien, housed at Highline United Methodist Church. The funding will pay for staffing from Catholic Community Services and a volunteer coordinator to work with community members supporting the shelter.

“This shelter is a life-saving service to our residents experiencing homelessness in and around Burien,” said Mayor Jimmy Matta.

Highline United Methodist Church Pastor Jenny Partch said the funding made a huge difference in being able to staff the shelter and serve local community members struggling in the freezing temperatures.

“I personally met a local man in the shelter who graduated from Highline High School, attended college and suffered a traumatic brain injury as a young adult,” Partch said. “His parents are no longer living and without the family support, he is unable to maintain a stable home on his disability money.”

Thanks to donations and support from community members and churches, the shelter was able to provide hot meals for five nights and breakfast each morning.

The shelter can open again before winter when forecasts indicate 12 hours of 32-degree weather for two consecutive nights or three inches of snow is forecasted to stay on the ground for 24 hours.

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