The Bellingham Public Library and the City of Bellingham are partnering with the Lighthouse Mission Ministries (LMM) and Fountain Community Church to provide an emergency day-center space for up to 50 women during dangerously cold days this winter.
There is potential this winter that there will be a shortage of space at the LMM Drop-In Center, both overnight and during the daytime hours. Fountain Community Church has offered to provide additional shelter on the coldest nights between December 1 and March 1. During these nights, the church will open their shelter to up to 30 men, in addition to the 45-50 women they normally accommodate each night during their three-month cold weather shelter program.
If the Fountain Church does need to accommodate the additional men, LMM staff anticipates that they will not be able to serve the total need during the day, as the Drop-In Center will be too full to have an additional 75 to 80 people. As a result of this need for warm, dry space during the day, Mayor Kelli Linville has asked City staff to arrange to have an “emergency day center” available for the women when the weather becomes life threatening. If the library space is unavailable, the Mayor has said the City would make a space in City Hall available.
“This is one of the many efforts the City is making to ensure people experiencing homelessness are safe during the coldest days of the year,” Mayor Linville said. “We are grateful that organizations like the Lighthouse Mission and Fountain Community Church, and the many volunteers who support them, are willing to step forward to address this critical need. I am proud that our library and other City departments are thinking creatively to help.”
Library Director Rebecca Judd has offered the lecture room in the downtown central library to be used for the Day Center, which may be open between 7 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. seven days a week, as needed. The emergency day center will be for the exclusive use of the Fountain Church shelter women. Many other City departments are also involved in this effort, including Planning and Community Development, Public Works, and Police.
“On the coldest days of the year, we all need to come together to help our most vulnerable neighbors,” Judd said. “When the Mayor asked if the library lecture room could be activated as an emergency cold weather day shelter for Fountain Church women, we immediately said yes. As a department of the City, we look for ways to align our work with City priorities.”
This is one of several efforts the City of Bellingham is making to address homelessness this winter and year-round. The City is also considering an application by HomesNOW! to have a temporary encampment, called Winter Haven, in the parking lot behind City Hall during the winter.
For more information, please contact Katie Franks in Planning and Community Development at (360) 778-8388 or firstname.lastname@example.org.