Lynnwood opens cold-weather shelter for the homeless

  • Fri Nov 18th, 2011 7:53pm
  • News

By Mina Williams For The Herald

LYNNWOOD — Two people took advantage of the new cold-weather shelter that opened Thursday night at Lynnwood City Hall.

The city will open the shelter and allow people to sleep in the council chambers and lobby whenever the temperature dips below 33 degrees. It was also open Friday and is expected to be open tonight.

“It’s a good thing, what the volunteers and the city is doing for people,” said Kelly Kingen, 52, one of the two arriving for the first night the shelter was open.

About 33 people can sleep in the new shelter, staffed by church volunteers. More people can stay at the city’s Senior Center, if necessary.

A hot dinner at the Senior Center will be prepared by volunteers. Following the meal, people return to City Hall where mats and blankets await them. The following morning, people are served a hot breakfast.

The city’s building and maintenance workers built storage racks for the 30-plus mattresses and bundles of blankets.

Previously those in need were housed in a variety of churches throughout Lynnwood and Edmonds. Spurring the shift was the city’s fire code, which calls for sprinkler systems, fire doors and linked smoke detectors in areas where people gather.

As city officials grappled with the safety issues, organizers were able to shelter guests only under the agreement that a fire watch, a volunteer or two staying awake all night watching for any emergency situation, would be staffed. The city’s fire marshal gave the group a few years to transition to a suitable site.

Mark Waldin, a coordinator of the volunteers, said the new set up at Lynnwood City Hall was great. “We no longer have to transport guests from the meeting spot to one of the churches that is the shelter for the evening,” he said.

Lynnwood’s City Council made the move to open City Hall on frigid nights to those in need as an emergency shelter.

“All the guests here are incredibly thankful and extremely helpful,” Waldin said.