Grays Harbor County Public Health Communications Director Dan Hammock Says that the cold weather Shelter in Westport has been seeing an increase in use due to no central county shelter options after the City of Aberdeen has chosen so far to not set up any options for those in need.
Some Westport citizens have noticed more traffic from the unsheltered this year because, unlike most previous years, there is no emergency cold weather shelter in the central portion of the county, forcing those seeking shelter to attempt to use the Westport location, often using the public transit system.
With implementation of a shelter in the central Grays Harbor area delayed, the Board of County Commissioners asked Public Health to bring forward options to mitigate the effects of cold weather on unsheltered residents. In December 2022 Public Health presented three options to the board, including expanding the bed capacity at the Westport shelter.On January 3, 2023, Grays Harbor County Commissioners approved a contract amendment for the shelter to expand its capacity from 15 to 25 beds. An additional $45,000, funded by an Emergency Solutions Coronavirus Grant through the State of Washington, will provide for three full-time employees (shelter staff, security, and shelter manager), along with utilities, supplies and administration costs of operating a 25-bed facility.
Provisions in the contract between the county and Chaplains on the Harbor require Chaplains to work closely with the City of Westport to make sure everything at the shelter is up to code and to mitigate impacts on the community. Chaplains and the County have indeed worked with the city to do this throughout the shelter season.
FAQs on the Westport Cold Weather Shelter can be found on the Grays Harbor County Public Health website. https://www.healthygh.org/directory/housing