Agency Spotlight: Northwest Youth Services

Mar 21, 2023

United Way of Whatcom County partners with local nonprofit organizations to help our struggling friends and neighbors find stability. This month we highlight one of our fabulous partner agencies, Northwest Youth Services.

Did you know that over a fifth of the homeless population in Whatcom County is under the age of 18? According to the 2022 Whatcom County Collation to End Homelessness Annual Report, young people under the age of 18 made up 18% of those experiencing homeless in Whatcom County.

This is where United Way partner agencies like Northwest Youth Services step in to help. Northwest Youth Services supports homeless, runaway, and at-risk youth in our community, giving them access to the tools and resources they need. They go beyond trauma informed care to holistically help young people grow and find stability.


As part of their mission, Northwest Youth Services offers several programs geared towards supporting young people who are struggling for a variety of reasons. 100% of clients served through Northwest Youth Services are below the ALICE threshold, meaning that these youth struggle to make ends meet in our community. Many come from unsafe living situations, with homelessness being a last resort.

The Ground Floor

The Ground Floor is a day-use space in Bellingham where unhoused youth 24 and under can come to connect and rest. NWYS provides youth who come to The Ground Floor with food, clothes, and gear to keep them safe from the elements. Young people can also find resources to help them on their journey out of homelessness.

nwys ground floor

Behavioral Health

According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, as many as two-thirds of all incarcerated teens have a diagnosable mental illness. As part of their mission of supporting at-risk young people in our community, Northwest Youth Services incorporates a Whole Person Approach across all their programs. Every individual who comes through their doors is treated through this lens. This approach helps to foster positive physical, emotional, mental, and psychosocial wellbeing, keeping young people out of the justice system and nurturing them towards a successful future.

Employment and Education Support

NWYS provides 1 on 1 in person or virtual support for youth with an employment and education coordinator to help them build targeted plans to meet their personal and professional goals. These sessions help with resume writing/building, job searching, educational planning, secondary program referrals, and so much more. These support services are often offered in tandem with housing support, holistically helping young people who are struggling find stability.


In addition to these programs, Northwest Youth Services has several housing programs that help young people ages 18-24 find temporary and long-term, stable housing. These programs include:

HUSLY Temporary Shelter

HUSLY Shelter (Housing Under Served Low-Income Youth) offers temporary housing for up to 90 days for young adults between 18 and 24 years old. Young people work with a Case Manager to find long-term housing options and can access NWYS’s job and behavioral health programs.

Transitional Living Program (TLP)

This program also offers short-term housing and support for young people to help them find an apartment, find a job, and work on building financial stability and literacy.

Rapid Rehousing

Northwest Youth Service’s Rapid Rehousing helps young people 18-24 who are leaving unstable situations find housing. This program offers short-term rental assistance, health/support services, and more.


The PAD (Positive Adolescent Development) is a short-term emergency housing support program that serves youth ages 13-17. With the help of case manager, youth create a plan for themselves to find stable housing, employment, and learn skills to help them live independently. Staff are available at the PAD 24/7 to support youth however necessary.

Recently, Northwest Youth Services completed construction on their newest PAD house. This house will serve as a transitional home for youth for up to 90 days as they flee crisis and begin to take next steps towards stability. Youth will begin moving in within the next few months.

As a long-time supporter of The PAD program, United Way is excited to see how this new development will serve and benefit young people in our community!

nwys pad

The United Way Network

Financial instability is a complex and multi-faceted problem. That’s why United Way of Whatcom County partners with a wide range of local nonprofits that help meet basic needs, improve economic mobility, and break cycles of poverty in our community. When you give to United Way of Whatcom County, you help support all of this amazing work at Northwest Youth Services, plus a collaborative network of over 20 other local agencies! When our community’s youth are set up for success, we all benefit.

Here is a list of several other nonprofit agencies within the United Way network that provide housing support for individuals and families in Whatcom County:

  • Interfaith Coalition
  • Lydia Place
  • Mercy Housing
  • Opportunity Council
  • Sun Community Service

To learn more about our collaborative network of funded partners that are changing lives right here in Whatcom County, head to our partner agency page!

For more information about ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) populations in Whatcom County, click here.

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