As overdose and overdose deaths continue to rise across our community, Opportunity Council is committed to supporting our clients and residents in numerous ways.

A recent report in Whatcom County confirmed what many service providers are experiencing across the community- a steep uptick in overdoses and overdose deaths. A near 43% increase in overdose deaths in 2023 compared to 2022 (The Bellingham Herald, January 5. 2024) has affected our entire community deeply. We are in full support of Whatcom County Council’s request to the state and federal government to declare a fentanyl emergency (Cascadia Daily News, January 10, 2024). We cannot fight this epidemic alone. Opportunity Council continues to maintain our robust response to the opioid epidemic and to stay on the vanguard of emerging best practices.

Staff follow industry best practices including permanent supportive housing, harm reduction, and housing first models. Our staff is dedicated to the well-being and safety of our clients and residents and are continually working to implement new measures to improve the health and quality of life for our clients and residents. Currently, these measures include, but are not limited to:

  1. Staff naloxone (Narcan) Availability: All client facing staff members are trained to recognize the signs of an overdose and have access to and are trained to use naloxone (Narcan) to address potential opioid overdoses promptly.
  2. Naloxone (Narcan) Distribution: Naloxone (Narcan) is available to residents of our housing complexes and to clients through our Homeless Outreach Team and the Bellingham Community Resource Center.
  3. Case Management Services: Residents and housing participants have access to comprehensive case management services to address their individual needs and challenges.
  4. Connection to Treatment: We are committed to facilitating connections to appropriate treatment resources for individuals struggling with substance use issues.
  5. 24-Hour Staffing: To ensure constant support and assistance, we maintain 24-hour staffing at our 40-unit 22 North Permanent Supportive Housing Complex.
  6. Welfare checks: Staff at 22 North maintain a daily log of resident sightings and conduct welfare checks if a resident has not been seen for 24 hours. Residents and staff work collaboratively to determine additional checks after a medical or traumatic event, including a potential overdose.
  7. Exploring innovative and emerging practices in overdose prevention and response: We are researching the latest innovations in overdose response, especially those interventions that address the elevated risk of using alone.
  8. Behavioral Health Professional: In partnership with Whatcom County Health and Community Services, we are actively recruiting for a Behavioral Health Professional. This position is intended to enhance onsite services and immediate access to recovery support and resources.
  9. Expanding Peer Counselor Services: Peers play a crucial role in providing support and understanding for tenants facing similar challenges, fostering a sense of community. We plan to expand the current Peer Counselor model to cover additional units managed by Opportunity Council, including 22 North.

We take this matter very seriously and are dedicated to implementing life-saving protocols. Our commitment to the well-being of our tenants and clients remains unwavering, and we will continue to work tirelessly to enhance our practices and support mechanisms.

For further information or inquiries, please contact:

Lorena Shah

Director of Operations


360-734-5121 ext. 1157