Hello, this is Doug from HomesNOW, Not Later. I just wanted to update everybody on a few things. Unity Village continues to run smoothly and safely. The residents of Unity Village have been doing an incredible job running their own village, with our constant support, and we are proud of the progress they are making under the current difficult situation with COVID-19 and a difficult economy.
I would also like to let everybody know that HomesNOW has turned in a formal proposal to the City of Bellingham to set up a tiny home village on the former Safe Haven site, the location where HomesNOW previously operated a tent encampment.
We do not take this proposal lightly, and we realize that 2 sites is actually 3-4x harder than 1 site, but we can handle it. For our 2nd site I wanted to propose a slightly smaller site, and also an easy site to get started, since we’ve already been there. This will act as a learning experience to help us deal with having 2 sites and working out all the rough edges, before we really kick into overdrive with many more sites.
Building this 2nd village will be a community project, and at the end we will be able to house 15-20 people if the City approves our proposal.
HomesNOW has a track record of reducing crime and enhancing the surrounding neighborhood wherever we have been hosted. We ask that the City can recognize this, and allow us to utilize an empty parking lot to help more peope out of homelessness.
Our proposal has a desired date of March 1st to get started, as the weather begins to improve, and we plan to take a few months to build the 16 tiny homes. The construction of the Homes will be a community project. We’ve had over 400 people sign up on our website to volunteer, but currently with the 1 village we have (Unity Village), we have nothing for our volunteers to do, so we’re trying to expand and do more to help.
This is the proposed site layout for the location.
This layout was chosen for a number of reasons. I am sure that this layout is not the final layout, but roughly, this is what we’re going for.
1. We Wanted it to feel open/not cramped.
2. We Needed to fit at least 15 Tiny Homes plus 1 staff unit.
3. We Need 12ft wide access for trucks such as the porta-potty company to service the site (which is why all the portapotties are in a straight path (for the truck access). Portapotties and the pathway for the vaccum truck messes up my plans the most. “DAMN THE PORTAPOTTIES” happens a lot when I’m trying to form these layouts.
4.Also it needs a 40ft buffer zone into the property from the outside in terms of proximity to porta-potties.
I also want to read the letter that I sent today with our proposal to The City of Bellingham, including Mayor Fleetwood, The Council, and the Planning department. I also CC’ed the Whatcom County Council, and the County Executive, Satpal Sidhu.
It reads:
“HomesNOW is formally turning in our draft proposal to set up a 2nd Tiny Home Village in Bellingham. The project is called “Safe Haven 2.0”. The site would be slightly smaller than Unity Village, and would service a maximum of 20 residents, and 16 tiny homes (1 tiny house being a staff office/quarters).
In the past, HomesNOW operated a tent encampment in the Sunnyland neighborhood at 620 Alabama Street, the Whatcomm 911 dispatch center parking lot. While operating as a tent encampment, we were well received by the Sunnyland neighborhood and they missed us once we were gone (in general). The site continues to be an empty parking lot at this time, and since we’ve already been there before, it already has all the hookups we need and we can get up and running quickly. We do not require any government funds, but we would appreciate a portion of a parking lot in order to house more people and take some pressure off of existing services.
I am sending this email to the Bellingham city council, the Mayor of Bellingham, Seth Fleetwood, the Bellingham planning department, and the Whatcom County Council as well as County Executive Satpal Sidhu. I understand that this proposal is for a City of Bellingham site, but HomesNOW is also interested in working with the County in the future, and so I thought that having an example of our proposals would help make clear the high standards we have for health and public safety of the residents of any Tiny Home community, as well as the overall community at large.
As you all know, the eviction moratorium in Washington State ends on October 15th. I think this will likely mean an increase in homelessness in the months ahead, and the Lighthouse Mission’s Base Camp has also been seeing an uptick in numbers, beyond what the old Drop-in Center had. The team at HomesNOW wants to help alleviate the burden where it makes sense.
We know that we can’t service everyone in Whatcom County or the City of Bellingham, but we can help to make a dent in the problem and take a load off of existing service providers, while also reducing the number of people who are illegally camping, thus reducing the costs of camp cleanups to some degree.
I would like to add that many, if not most of the residents of Unity Village were formerly campers and have been moved along in the past. Setting up more of these villages, especially in areas not suitable for standard development, provides a straightforward way to increase the standard of living for more people (housed and unhoused), as well as reduces the visible signs of homelessness in town such as illegal camp sites.
I would also like Whatcom County Councilmember Barry Buchanan to add our proposal as an agenda item to the Homeless Strategies Workgroup meeting tomorrow, if not, the next one after that.
Please review our draft proposal and get back to us as soon as you can on thoughts, alternatives or concerns. I hope we can do this and house more people.
Thank You,
Doug Gustafson
Chairman – HomesNOW!
I have attached a copy of our proposal, as well as the proposed site layout in the description of this video:
Formal Proposal to the City of Bellingham:
Safe Haven 2.0 Site Layout:
If you can, please make it to the Homeless Strategies Workgroup meeting tomorrow at 1:30PM via Zoom, during the regularly scheduled comment period to voice your support and also mention any issues you feel are relevant in regards to Homelessness in Whatcom County. Also if you can, please make it to the Bellingham City Council meeting at 7PM on Monday via Zoom It’s not just about HomesNOW.
Here are the links for the two meetings over Zoom and Dates/Times:
Whatcom County Homeless Strategies Workgroup – Friday 10/8/2020, tomorrow at 1:30PM:
Bellingham City Council Meeting – Monday 10/12/2020 at 7PM:
That’s all I have to say. Short and sweet. Have a great night, stay safe, and be well, as much as can be expected under the current circumstances.
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