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white-center-shelter-bedThe new Family Shelter at White Center is open – and full – in just one day.

King County Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) and shelter operator Mary’s Place have collaborated to open a 24/7 shelter at the former Public Health Clinic in White Center for families experiencing homelessness. The shelter is currently providing a temporary home for approximately 30 persons (parents and children), and will ramp up to a maximum capacity of 70. The program provides immediate shelter, meals, and hygiene services and onsite case management assistance in providing access to healthcare, employment, permanent housing and other support service to help each family move toward self-sufficiency.

See the community agreement drafted by the King County, Mary’s Place, and the White Center Shelter Work Group (which includes members of the White Center community). If you have comments or questions about the community agreement, please contact Valerie Kendall by email or by phone at 206-263-9076.

The shelter work group has met three times and agreed at their last meeting to recommend opening a shelter to serve families experiencing homelessness. Alternate site locations were considered. At the Nov. 29 meeting, the work group toured the former Public Health Clinic building and expressed strong enthusiasm for housing the family shelter there. The work group will meet again the week of Dec. 12 to discuss the key elements of a community agreement between King County, Mary's Place and the White Center Community to formalize roles and responsibilities. 

Shelter operator will be Mary's Place. Their mission: Empowering homeless women, children and families to reclaim their lives by providing shelter, nourishment, resources, healing and hope in a safe community. Information on Mary's Place is available here

King County continues to explore opening a homeless shelter at the former Public Health Clinic in White Center.  Recent work has focused on evaluating alternative sites suggested by the local community.  King County is also evaluating the community suggestion of using the site for a family shelter. 


The first meeting of the work group was October 18.  The work group will meet again the week of November 10 to discuss alternate site locations and the shelter model.  King County representatives also recently attended the November 3 meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council. 


The King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review is continuing to review the permit request.


Below, please find links to documents that provide additional information on the White Center homeless population, a description of shelter terms, and an analysis of alternate sites.

- White Center Homeless Population

- Shelter Terms

- Alternate Sites

The November 1 opening date for the White Center homeless shelter has been delayed.

The White Center CDA and King County convened a work group of White Center community members on October 18. The discussion resulted in a number of questions and suggestions related to both siting and the shelter program. King County, the CDA and the work group will explore these issues. We appreciate the commitment of the work group and the comments and input received from the community.

At the same time, the Department of Permitting and Environmental Review is proceeding with their review and assessment of the White Center Public Health building.

 As winter weather approaches, we will work to find common ground so that every White Center resident can sleep indoors.

Common Questions

King County is engaging in a community conversation. Part of this work will include exploring alternative sites and offering suggestions about the shelter model and operations. We will work on input given by community members, including the possibility of alternate locations and/or reshaping the shelter program. Once this work has been completed, King County will share these findings and the next steps.

The estimated opening date is early 2017.

DCHS submitted a building permit application to the Department of Permitting and Environmental Review for the White Center Public Health building on September 28. With the change in shelter operators, DCHS is working with Mary's Place to modify the permit submittal.

The enhanced shelter model is proven to be more successful in helping people who are experiencing homelessness find permanent housing. The 24-hour model, case management, housing and employment services, and transportation to service agencies are instrumental in assisting people.

 A recent report from Focus Strategies, a national firm specializing in strategies to address homelessness, recommended that King County shift its shelter system to an enhanced model designed to connect homeless households to housing. The national best practice performance target for this type of shelter is an exit rate from shelter to permanent housing of 50 percent.

The planning connected to the White Center site began in May 2016. The first step was the physical assessment of the site followed by working with partners to develop the service program. Upon completion of this phase, King County sent out the public meeting notice in late August with the meeting being held on Sept. 15.

There are more than 100 people who are homeless in the White Center area and many more who are at risk of homelessness who have reached out for help via 211 and other venues. There are no other shelter options in White Center. Current estimates from the Highline School District indicate that there are over 70 homeless school age children from the district from over 35 families. 

Open letter from DCHS Director Adrienne Quinn discussing the genesis of the White Center Shelter, efforts to address homelessness, and community conversations about the shelter.

The old White Center Public Health Center is well laid out for a shelter, with separate spaces for eating and sleeping. It is adjacent to a food bank and is on a bus line that serves major employment centers. This building can be put to use bringing in White Center residents who are sleeping outside.

King County consulted with both the Food Bank and SW Youth and Family Services during site review. Both are agreeable to having the shelter join them at this location. DCHS and Mary's Place will work with both agencies to ensure communication and successful operations for all tenants.

Mary's Place works closely with the Highline School District, hospitals and other outreach workers who will provide direct outreach to people in White Center who are homeless. In addition, King County and partners will work with existing human services providers in White Center to get the word out that the beds and case management services are available.

Mary's Place will provide a phone number that will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Mary's Place is a respected shelter provider and, as in their other locations, is committed to being a good neighbor. Once the shelter is open, the phone number will be posted on this website. 

white-center-shelter white-center-shelter-map

More information

  • Contact Valerie Kendall at 206-263-9076.
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