The City of Bellingham is pleased to announce a partnership with service provider Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) and local agency Road2Home to establish a tiny house village for qualified residents, expected to open late spring 2021.
The City proposes to host the new tiny house village at 1399 Woburn Street, the former site of the City’s “Clean Green” facility. A neighborhood meeting to describe proposed plans and answer questions is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. March 11, 2021, via Zoom. Visit the Tiny House Village project page for virtual meeting details.
This new tiny house village is in addition to two villages currently being operated by Homes Now!: Unity Village and Swift Haven.
“We continue seeking new shelter options that are healthy and safe and, through our partnership with LIHI and Road2Home, give people experiencing homelessness access to case management to help them transition into permanent housing,” Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood said. “Creating permitted tiny house villages makes important progress toward the housing goals we all share. Our work with these two organizations is in addition to our diligent efforts in recent months to increase other temporary shelter options.”
LIHI is a non-profit housing and service organization that owns and manages over 2,300 units of affordable housing in 66 buildings throughout the Puget Sound region. LIHI operates 11 tiny home villages throughout western Washington and serves as a leader in providing tiny home villages as stepping stones toward permanent housing.
Road2Home is a nonprofit founded by Bellingham residents who saw a need for a program to help people experiencing homelessness navigate the complex system of social services. Together LIHI and Road2Home will construct, maintain, and operate the village of 30 to 36 tiny homes. Road2Home will help provide supportive services, construction management, volunteer recruitment, and management for the village.
Planning and Community Development Director Rick Sepler said the City anticipates residents will be welcomed to the village in May or June 2021. He said negotiations are underway with LIHI to determine contract details. A permit process, including opportunities for public feedback, is underway, with a neighborhood meeting planned for March 11. Several months of site preparation work also will be needed before the village will be ready for occupancy.
“LIHI brings to Bellingham substantial experience in developing and operating tiny house villages, including a proven track record of working with local residents in the community to address their concerns and moving residents from the tiny house to transitional and permanent housing,” Sepler said. “Their partnership with Road2Home adds local knowledge and connection. Together, they can provide an additional resource to help get folks into permanent housing.”
The tiny house village will provide shelter, safety, and community to residents with case managers working onsite to help them obtain housing, employment, health care, education, and other services, LIHI Executive Director Sharon Lee said.
“LIHI is looking forward to partnering with the City of Bellingham and Road2Home on a tiny house village. Too many people are vulnerable living outdoors and we offer an experienced, successful model that provides help and hope,” Lee said. “This new village will have heated and insulated tiny houses with services. Case managers will help people make a transition to permanent housing and employment. Tiny houses have a proven track record of moving people into housing compared with other forms of shelter.”
Both Road2Home and LIHI welcome donations and volunteers to set up the village and to support the residents once it opens. If you wish to volunteer or donate, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit www.road2home.org or www.lihi.org.
The City of Bellingham sought a partnership with qualified providers through a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process, which ran November to December 2020. Applicants were evaluated based on experience operating tiny house villages, a record of establishing stable housing for participants, and experience with permitting, planning, design, and construction. See the posted RFQ for further information on the minimum qualifications requested by the City.
The project will be funded with a combination of federal and local funds. The Bellingham City Council approved the project as part of the 2021 budget.
The City and Whatcom County are working together to provide permanent housing solutions, respond to the need for emergency shelter, and address the root causes of homelessness, together investing approximately $10 million per year in projects, partnerships and services.