The City of Bellingham follows an established process for reporting, monitoring and cleaning up unauthorized homeless encampments on public and private property. This work is coordinated by the Bellingham Police Department, in collaboration with other City departments and homeless service providers.
The City of Bellingham does not consider being homeless a crime. Cleanup efforts are intended to help maintain public health and safety for all, including those without stable housing. The City offers a number of direct services for those living unsheltered, including free vouchers for wastewater dumps for people living in recreational vehicles, garbage dumpsters, porta-potties, and access to water and showers.
- The City’s camp cleanup actions are complaint driven. Reports about active or abandoned camps are accepted using this form.
- Clean up of City parks and rights of way take priority for City action.
- Property owners are responsible for cleanup of camps on private property.
- Identified City staff review the overall impact of reported camps. For camps on City property, clean up decisions are made based on criteria such as location, potential public health, environmental, and safety hazards, and availability of shelter.
- Camp occupants are offered shelter and other services, offered storage for their belongings, and notified in advance of clean up actions.
- All camp clean ups are evaluated, prioritized, noticed and scheduled. Indiscriminate “sweeps” of camps without notice are not conducted.
- COVID-19 and the availability of shelter may affect City camp cleanups.
Report an unauthorized camp
Please use use this form to report an active or abandoned encampment. Reporting camps assists the City in monitoring and prioritizing clean up.
After a camp is reported
- The report is entered into a database shared by several City departments.
- A site visit is made for staff to evaluate the camp and determine next steps, based on established procedures.
- The camp is scheduled for outreach by the Homeless Outreach Team, which assists unsheltered people by notifying them of available resources and, if they wish, helping them access those resources.
- The camp is “tagged” for cleanup, which is formal notice to vacate and remove personal property within a specific amount of time, typically at least 24 hours for City Parks and usually 5-7 days for other City property or right of ways.
- The camp is scheduled for cleanup to remove any property or debris left behind. Personal property left at the camp is placed in storage at Bellingham Police Department for recovery by the owner. Storage is provided for the security of individuals’ belongings, which can be retrieved by calling (360) 778-8850.
- The camp is cleaned.