As guests continue to move in, the City of Bellingham announces the opening of Gardenview Tiny House Village, located on City property near the intersection of Woburn Street and Lakeway Drive.
The Gardenview Tiny House Village began welcoming its first residents in mid-October. The community, which emphasizes services for seniors and people who are medically fragile, is currently sheltering 22 residents, with more expected to move in this week. Village residents include individuals, couples, and people with pets who are currently experiencing homelessness.
This tiny house village joins other new shelter services that will be available in Bellingham this winter, including Base Camp‘s overflow shelter and a young adult winter shelter to be operated by Northwest Youth Services at Civic Field.
The Gardenview village is staffed 24/7 by the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) and Road2Home. A site manager ensures the village is safe and well-organized, and a case manager is dedicated to helping residents move as quickly as possible into permanent housing, as well as obtain employment, health care, and other services to meet their unique needs. The village accepts referrals through agencies such as the Whatcom Homeless Service Center and other community partners.
“Gardenview is happily filling up. We are building a community here in the village and enjoying the growth that comes from a stable place to shelter and a place for guests to call their own,” Heidi Theisen, Gardenview case manager, said. “A guest shared that having a heated tiny home to return to each night overwhelms her with a sense of safety. Another guest shared that he is forever grateful for the chance to change his life and bring his elderly dog in out of the cold.”
Gardenview Tiny House Village is a partnership between the City of Bellingham, LIHI and Road2Home. The City contracted with LIHI and Road2Home to set up and provide staffing and services to the village. The village is funded by the City as an enhanced, non-congregate shelter that protects people experiencing homelessness from exposure to COVID-19, weather, and other harmful circumstances, and serves as a pathway from homelessness to housing.
“We have made progress on expanding shelter options that are healthy, safe, and offer services to help people transition into permanent housing,” Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood said. “We talk a lot about the continuum of housing and ensuring that the entire community enjoys the benefit and the right to have a home. We value the fact that the way to achieve housing for everybody is by creating permanent housing solutions. But there’s a segment of our community that needs this kind of temporary shelter as a first step. We see this village as a critical service in the continuum of housing.”
The City is the primary funder for both the costs to construct the village and costs of facility operations and programming. Each of the 30 tiny houses measure 8 x 12 feet, is insulated, furnished, and has heat, electricity, windows, and a locking door. Twenty of the tiny houses were purchased by Whatcom County and manufactured locally, and the remainder were built on-site by volunteers. In addition to houses, the village includes a community kitchen, hygiene facilities, craft room, offices for staff, parking, and a security station at the entrance.
Community members invited to get involved
Community members interested in partnering with the City, county, and community partners are invited to engage with and support this effort in a number of ways, including:
- A Community Advisory Committee is being formed of neighborhood stakeholders, including nearby neighbors and representatives of local businesses, community and faith organizations, who will receive updates from village staff on operations and resident services, provide advisory input, and address concerns, questions, or offers of support from the community to help ensure success of the program and respect for the surrounding neighborhood. For more information, contact Josh Castle, LIHI Community Engagement Director, at email@example.com
- LIHI and Road2Home welcome community support through donations and volunteerism. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit road2home.org for details.
- If you would like to purchase a gift for Gardenview this holiday season, stop by the Black Drop Coffeehouse in Bellingham and choose a tag off of the Gardenview Giving Tree. More information available at the Black Drop Coffeehouse or by emailing email@example.com
- Road2Home runs an ally program for community members who want to get involved and help our unsheltered neighbors and is recruiting volunteers who wish to become allies and work with Gardenview residents. For more information visit road2home.org