Jefferson, Bayside to manage shelter

County would fund effort between organizations

PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County will take over operating the homeless shelter in Port Townsend at the end of the month and will work with Bayside Housing and Services to manage the facility.

The county has been looking into managing the shelter after its current operator, Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP), announced in March it could no longer afford to continue running it.

District 3 Commissioner Greg Brotherton said during Monday’s meeting of the board of county commissioners that the county is working on a three-way memorandum of understanding between Jefferson County, Bayside and the American Legion Marvin G. Shields Memorial Post 26, where the shelter is located in the basement.

“It’s moving along,” Brotherton said. “We’re not looking right now at county operations.”

The county is still working with the American Legion to negotiate a utilities agreement, and a coalition of organizations is working with local faith groups to secure food donations.

Bayside Executive Director Heather Dudley-Nollette previously told commissioners the organization could provide personnel to run the shelter, but it could not provide financial support.

Commissioners previously expressed concern at taking over the management of a homeless shelter — which is not something the county typically does — but they said they didn’t want to see the area not have one available.

Since 2019, a federal court ruling in city of Boise, Idaho v. Martin, found that cities cannot prohibit homeless people from camping in public spaces if no shelter beds are available. Another case regarding the issue — City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson — is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court with a decision pending.

OlyCAP interim executive director Tammy Lidster previously said it costs between $25,000 and $30,000 a month to operate the shelter, mainly in staff salaries. Much of that cost previously had been covered by COVID-19 pandemic relief funds, but those revenue streams have ended, Lidster said.

At a meeting last month, county officials projected similar costs for the facility with some projections going as low as $20,000 a month depending on staffing and services offered. County projections found between $7,500 and $18,000 in monthly costs are not covered by existing revenue streams.

Commissioners previously discussed redirecting money from the county’s Homeless Housing Fund — Fund 149 — which would require approval by the Housing Fund Board, a joint board between the county and the city of Port Townsend.

A permanent shelter is currently planned for a site next to the Caswell-Brown Village, but OlyCAP is waiting on about $2.2 million for construction with federal funding requests pending.

The county would only operate the shelter at the American Legion until the permanent shelter is completed.


Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at

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