Shelter General

Small shelter units sit April 26 at the site of the Skagit First Steps Center in Burlington. The units will serve as an emergency shelter and social services site managed by homeless services nonprofit Friendship House.

BURLINGTON — With the hiring of staff nearly complete, Burlington’s new homeless shelter is on track to open June 14.

While the date isn’t set in stone, hiring staff was the last significant barrier to the city and homeless services partner Friendship House opening the Skagit First Step Center.

The center was first set to open in early May, but that was delayed due to construction and difficulty in filling staff positions.

However, over the past two weeks Tina Tate, executive director of Friendship House, said she has hired all but one or two of the 18 staff she needs.

Staff is now training for when the center opens, she said.

The center will house up to 20 people in small free-standing shelter units. Once residents spend a week or two getting accustomed to life at the center, Tate said Friendship House will start to bring in mental health, substance abuse and homelessness services.

“Giving them a chance to breath will be really important,” she said. “People really have to realize, when you’re living on the street, you get used to another kind of living.”

Services will focus on preparing residents for permanent housing, and connecting them to other community providers.

“It’s that skill building that we really want to make this facility about,” Tate said.

She said she is planning to expand to more than 20 residents within about three months after opening.

Security will be on site nightly from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., she said.

The city will field questions and concerns from the public at a hearing scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday.

The hearing will be held remotely, and will deal with the issuing of permits for this project. The public can participate by calling 1-774-777-4255 and entering conference ID 661-8325.

— Reporter Brandon Stone: bstone@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2112, Twitter: @Brandon_SVH

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