Homeless Services

IWovernightshelter-logo-300x147Interfaith Works continues our 29-year history of sheltering homeless adults in Thurston County, with improved program design to better serve the most vulnerable adults living on our streets.

Our Mission
To advance the social inclusion and empowerment of the homeless through innovative practices of sheltering, mental health and emergency basic needs coordination.

For more information contact:

Meg Martin, MSW, MHP
Co-Executive Director
Phone: (360) 357-7224
Email: info@iwshelter.org

Jump to:

Interfaith Works Emergency Overnight Shelter

Interfaith Works at the Providence Community Care Center

History of Interfaith Works Winter Warming Center

The Interfaith Works Emergency Overnight Shelter

The Emergency Overnight Shelter website is here:

Open/download the this infographic in PDF format here or by clicking on the image.

Read the Shelter Fact Sheet – March 2016. (PDF format)

Hear the segment from “Sound Effect” on KNKX public radio aired on September 9, 2017. Meg Martin talks about the origins of The People’s House project and the challenges around opening the overnight shelter in “Won’t Take No for an Answer.”

Support the IW Shelter. See: Gift Ideas for Interfaith Works Emergency Overnight Shelter – An Amazon Wish List.


Interfaith Works at the Providence Community Care Center

We are an active partner with Providence St. Peter Hospital and other agencies at the Community Care Center, opened in September 2017 at 225 State Ave NE in downtown Olympia. This year-round day program represents a major step forward for our community, and we are committed to helping make it a success.

Interfaith Works’ staff manage the day room, hygiene facilities and outdoor space at the Center.

While the Center is not designed to function as a seasonal warming center, we are all working together to construct the best possible integrated system to enable access to services and, in particular, respond effectively to the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized – those who experience the most barriers to accessing services and resources.

More information at the Care Center web page.

History of Interfaith Works Winter Warming Center

Managed by IW shelter support staff, the Warming Center offered a welcoming, safe and managed environment with basic respite from the elements, where many kinds of street-dependent persons could warm up, socialize, catch some undisturbed sleep, and connect with a network of services.

Our First Year: Winter 2015-16 – In the winter of 2015-16 Interfaith Works agreed to a partnership with three faith communities to open a rotating winter warming center. Together with The United Churches of Olympia, First Christian Church and the Temple Beth Hatfiloh we were able to open 7 days a week between the hours of 7am-1pm.

Over the course of that winter we saw an average of 130 people per day! Our highest occupancy day was 179 people coming through in a 6 hour period.

This effort was hugely important because we were able to collect data about the street population that hasn’t been gathered before. We made thousands of contacts with people throughout the season, worked with SeaMar, Behavioral Health Resources, SideWalk and the PATH program to provide medical, mental health and housing support to people at the warming center. This effort showed in real time the now documented need and scope of need for daytime services in our city.

Winter 2016-17 – In response to urgent health and safety priorities during the winter season, Interfaith Works again operated a daytime Winter Warming Center to provide relief for vulnerable street dependent people and others.

The Warming Center opened in early November 2016, rotating between two church sites five days per week. Then on December 19th the Warming Center was open 7 days per week at a single downtown Olympia location:  from 7am to 5:30pm daily. The program operated through March 31, 2017. Funding for this public resource comes from a partnership among local government: Thurston County, and the cities of Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater, along with private contributors.

At least two Interfaith Works Emergency Shelter staff were on site daily plus volunteer support. Staff were trained in de-escalation and emergency intervention skills, and had extensive site management experience providing nightly shelter at our Emergency Overnight Shelter and last winter’s Warming Center program.

Staff were responsible for maintaining a safe and welcoming environment for all guests at the Warming Center, managing the immediate outdoor space to minimize impact on adjacent neighbors, and working together with nearby property owners to mitigate any facilities issues. Guests were expected to sign Guest Agreement and Good Neighbor policies along the lines of the current IW Shelter program.

Services at the Warming Center

Community support services were available on site at the Warming Center, coordinated to provide outreach to engage and enroll people in services. This included (but was not limited to) SeaMar Community Health Care Management Team, PATH program through the Capital Recovery Center, Behavioral Health Resources outreach and enrollment, psychiatric ARNP and Intensive Case Manager through Providence Health Services, Olympia Free Clinic providing acute medical care and first aid relief and SideWalk, providing access to rapid rehousing, coordinated entry and shelter diversion programs.

Winter 2017-18 – After careful consideration, Interfaith Works  decided that we could not operate a homeless warming center during Winter 2017-18. See our Winter Services Update (Sept 2017) at this link for more about this.

Jump to:

Interfaith Works Emergency Overnight Shelter

Interfaith Works at the Providence Community Care Center

History of Interfaith Works Winter Warming Center