The City of Bellingham follows an established process for accepting reports, monitoring, and cleaning up unauthorized homeless encampments on public and private property. This work is coordinated by the Bellingham Public Works Department, in collaboration with other City departments and outreach services providers.
Cleanup efforts are intended to help maintain public health and safety for all, including those living unsheltered. The City offers a number of direct services for people experiencing homelessness, including free vouchers for wastewater dumps for people living in recreational vehicles, garbage dumpsters, porta-potties, and access to water and showers.
Report an unauthorized camp
Please report an active or abandoned encampment using the link below.
- Most camp cleanup actions are complaint driven.
- Cleaning up City parks and rights of way take priority for City action.
- Property owners are responsible for cleaning up camps on private property.
- Identified City staff review the overall impact of reported camps. For camps on City property, cleanup decisions are made based on criteria such as location, potential public health, environmental, and safety hazards, and availability of shelter.
- Camp occupants are offered shelter and other services and notified in advance of cleanup actions.
- All camp cleanups are evaluated, prioritized, noticed, and scheduled. Indiscriminate “sweeps” of camps without notice are not conducted.
- COVID-19 and the availability of shelter may affect City camp cleanups.
After a camp is reported
- The report is entered into a database shared by several City departments.
- A site visit is made for staff to evaluate the camp and determine next steps, based on established procedures.
- The camp is scheduled for outreach by the Homeless Outreach Team, which assists unsheltered people by notifying them of available resources and, if they wish, helping them access those resources.
- The camp is “tagged” for cleanup, which is formal notice to vacate and remove personal property within a specific amount of time, typically at least 24 hours for City Parks and usually 5-7 days for other City property or rights of way.
- The camp is scheduled for cleanup to remove any property or debris left behind.
- The camp is cleaned.