The City of Bellingham is reviewing an application for a temporary encampment proposed for the parking lot behind City Hall, 210 Lottie St. HomesNOW! has applied for the temporary shelter permit, which would provide shelter for up to 40 people during the coldest winter months.
The encampment, called “Winter Haven,” would provide daily services and overnight shelter, including up to 20 tents, bathrooms, showers, drinking water, cooking facilities, garbage services, and social and health services. Mayor Kelli Linville brought the proposal forward to Bellingham City Council on Monday Nov. 19, and Council voted 7-0 to support the administration in working with HomesNOW! to establish the temporary encampment.
“The challenge of housing those without shelter has been a continuing crisis for our community,” Mayor Linville said. “Over the past several years, the City has worked with the Lighthouse Mission and others to support shelter efforts, but it hasn’t been enough. I am supportive of this proposal and I am very hopeful it will be a successful project. But this is not the permanent solution. It’s a stop gap measure to get people off the street and out of the woods during the winter.”
Several required provisions are included in the proposal, including
- A six-foot-tall chain-link fence enclosing the area and controlling access
- Additional lighting for the kitchen and bathrooms
- A code of conduct that prohibits drug and alcohol use and unsafe behavior
- Onsite supervision 24 hours a day
- No children under the age of 18 can stay overnight unless accompanied by a parent or guardian
- All local, state and federal laws and public health regulations must be met, including no open flames or fires
- Direct intake of Winter Haven guests will be managed off site
- Guests will be permitted after they have completed a warrant check by the Bellingham Police Department
- HomesNOW! will provide security measures such as closed-circuit cameras, lighting, fencing and controlled access to the site.
The permit will be for no more than 90 continuous days, with an end date no later than April 15, 2019. The temporary encampment will be closed by the City if the conditions of approval are violated, if there is reoccurring criminal conduct, or if the chiefs of police or fire believe there is a danger to the encampment or the surrounding community.
Comments on this proposal are being accepted through Dec. 7, 2018. For more information, see the Notice of Application. Additional information can also be found on the City’s planning notices page. A decision will be made on the project following the comment period. Send written comments and requests for information to Lisa Pool at firstname.lastname@example.org or (360) 778-8390.