Answer questions before buidling Whidbey homeless shelter

I’d like to invite The Herald’s readership to assist me in evaluating the planning for a homeless shelter on Whidbey Island.

Known facts:

The homeless population on Whidbey Island is concentrated in downtown Oak Harbors.

The ‘services’ needed by the homeless are located in Oak Harbor.

There are usually only one to two Island County Sheriff’s deputies on duty at night to cover the entirety of Whidbey Island.

Given those facts: Where would the ideal placement for a homeless shelter be on Whidbey Island and how would the homeless get to and from a shelter?

Some pertinent questions:

What is the documented number of homeless on Whidbey Island?

Where specifically are they located on the island?

Has any attempt been made to distinguish differences among the homeless?

Why is a shelter being proposed by the Whidbey Island Homeless Coalition to be placed in a rural location (at the corner of Highway 20 and Morris Road, 6 miles south of Coupeville) when services they will need or job training opportunities, access to doctors and dentists are going to be more available in a city like Oak Harbor or Langley.

If Island County is going to subsidize services to the homeless via Whidbey Homeless Coalition, shouldn’t there be ongoing oversight and auditing, as well as measures to contain the associated homeless encampments that such a shelter would encourage?

Wayne Flaaten


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