Permit issued for temporary tent encampment at What-Comm

‘Safe Haven’ to operate for 90 days

March 20, 2019 - by Planning and Community Development

​A permit has been issued to HomesNow! to establish a temporary tent encampment in the parking lot at the What-Comm Dispatch Center on Alabama Street starting April 3. A current permit to operate a similar temporary encampment behind City Hall expires April 2.

The Bellingham Planning and Community Development Department issued the permit on Tuesday March 19 for the establishment of a temporary tent encampment for people experiencing homelessness in a portion of the parking lot at the What-Comm Dispatch Center at 620 Alabama Street. The tent encampment, known as “Safe Haven,” will operate for 90 days from April 3 to July 1, 2019, with the possibility of one or two extensions of up to 30 days each provided that all requirements and conditions are met.

The applicant, HomesNow!, is a Washington state nonprofit corporation. HomesNow! will be both funding and operating the encampment. The What-Comm site is owned by the City of Bellingham and has been made available for this use at no charge to HomesNow!.

The encampment will provide up to 25 tents for overnight shelter and amenities for up to 32 people. The What-Comm encampment will be similar to the “Winter Haven” encampment behind City Hall and will include bathrooms, showers, drinking water, an outdoor kitchen, garbage and recycling containers, and human and social services. The permit also requires a chain-link fence to enclose the area. HomesNow!’s guests will be screened through an application process in an off-site location. No on-site screening or queuing will be permitted at the encampment site.

The permit was issued after a careful review of the record and consideration of the extensive public comment that was submitted on the application. The City determined that the proposal, as conditioned, was consistent with all applicable requirements of the Bellingham Municipal Code. The approval is subject to appeal for a 14-day period.

HomesNow! may now begin to prepare the site for future use as a temporary tent encampment. However, they may not occupy the site until the appeal period has ended on April 2, 2019, at 5 p.m. Should an appeal be submitted, the use would be stayed until the appeal is heard by the Hearing Examiner and a decision rendered.

For more information

The following link will take you to the Permit and Exhibits (scroll to the Decisions section until you reach USE2019-0004 620 Alabama St):

Media Contact

​Rick Sepler, Director
Planning and Community Development

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