Social Services
hazardous weather task force  

About Us

The Hazardous Weather Task Force (HWTF) is a county-wide, multi-agency, multi-disciplinary group working to plan expansion of services and outreach to minimize illness and death among unsheltered homeless persons during normal and extreme weather.

The HWTF is in its first year and is developing a formalized plan to address the needs within our community for seasonal and expanded inclement weather conditions. The draft plan developed by the HWTF brings community organizations together creating a centralized inventory of the homeless resources throughout Thurston County. The list of available resources helps the various shelters communicate with one another regarding services and bed availability. This resource also assists during extreme weather conditions when the need amongst the unhoused population increases. Services are expanded to accommodate the greater need beyond just the seasonal beds. 

Code Blue

Events guided by this approach occur during defined winter weather conditions and are called "Code Blue.” During Code Blue events, homeless shelter capacity and supplementary services are expanded to address the needs of the unsheltered population.

On February 16, 2018, through the Director of Public Health and Social Services, Thurston County issued its first “code blue” advisory. The advisory lasted nine days in response to a cold weather pattern that brought rain, winds, snow, ice, and below freezing temperatures.

During the “code blue” activation period, expanded shelter options were available at Salvation Army and Union Gospel Mission for single men and women. In addition, First Christian Church in partnership with Interfaith Works offered extra shelter capacity. Family Support Center’s Pear Blossom Place was available for families with children needing shelter and Community Youth Services was available for youth ages 18-24.  During the nine day “code blue” activation, more than 650 individuals were served. This is 50% above the available bed capacity when not in a “code blue” activation.

Volunteer Needs, Evaluation, and Access to Supplies

The HWTF learned many lessons during the first hazardous weather response, “code blue”.

·         Needing more volunteers and paid staff to keep the shelters open, clean, and fully staffed for safety: I had the opportunity to volunteer at Interfaith Works during the activation and the lack of volunteers and supplies was the biggest struggle for the shelters.

·         Evaluating temperatures and weather patterns more closely in advance: there were a few missed opportunities to activate for cold weather patterns lasting for shorter durations.

·         Increasing access to supplies, including laundry service: many shelters were very limited on their supplies by the end of the activation, including clean bedding.

Task Force

The HWTF members are continuing to meet to finalize and implement a plan to help serve this population.   

Members include:       

  • City of Lacey
  • City of Olympia
  • City of Tumwater
  • City of Yelm
  • Community Care Center
  • Community Youth Services
  • Crisis Clinic
  • Emergency Services
  • Family Support Center
  • Interfaith Works
  • Passionate Citizens
  • Port of Olympia
  • Public Health and Social Services
  • Salvation Army
  • Union Gospel Mission
  • Thomas Webster
  • 360-867-2531 or Email
shelter report

Hazardous Weather Nightly Shelter Report

This page last updated: 01/28/22