Introducing Swift Haven – A New Tiny Home Community
Hello, this is Doug from HomesNOW, Not Later. HomesNOW has some very exciting news. HomesNOW has been asked by the City of Bellingham to manage an emergency tent encampment within the next few days. This tent encampment will quickly become a tiny home community over the coming weeks. Campers who are on City Hall who would do well in a community setting and working toward a self-management structure and able to work well with others would be prioritized and are currently being interviewed.
The City of Bellingham and Whatcom County are acting under emergency orders with authorization from the governor because of a few confirmed COVID-19 cases at the camp. The City of Bellingham also decided to act because of the lack of overall capacity, as the economic fallout from COVID-19 continues. As for the County, they are providing the modular structures, also under emergency powers.
I want to make clear that this is a very small victory, and the fight toward ending homelessness one person at a time is much longer, and much more work will need to be done, from all of us, to solve this problem. HomesNOW will keep providing as many services as we can, and will keep trying to increase the level of service for every resident who lives with us, from any village, with a goal of having as much of a self-managed structure as possible, meaning the residents run it together mutually.
I wanted to give a shoutout to Camp 210 and BOP Mutual aid, also known as “The Collective” for those who are helping to manage it. HomesNOW has not been part of organizing camp 210 and BOP Mutual Aid, or their negotiations with the city, but we appreciate their actions and they have definitely helped to create positive change in Bellingham as a result. HomesNOW has been providing aid where we can to the homeless individuals at City Hall in terms of supplies, such as clothing, coats, blankets, sleeping bags and other items to keep people alive during the winter.
The Mayor of Bellingham, Seth Fleetwood, recently commented in the previous meeting between the City of Bellingham and the collective that it’s been an effective protest and that actions have been taken that would normally not have been taken. Camp 210 has brought awareness to the fact that there are a lot of people who are homeless in Whatcom County, and that often they are hidden from view, and get moved around often. 210 camp simply makes the problem more visible that has always been there, but also provides more aid and the camp gets more aid from the community which would normally not be available to these campers.
As a result of urgent actions being taken by local governments, during a time of emergency, HomesNOW, in partnership with the City of Bellingham, and Whatcom County is setting up an emergency tiny home village called “Swift Haven”.The specific three-way partnership is as follows:
1. The city is providing the site, the parking lot at Frank Geri Fields, at Civic Field complex, in the Puget neighborhood.
2. HomesNOW is the operator/manager of the site.
3. Whatcom County is providing modular structures, with a tiny home design from 360 modular in Ferndale. Basic units, 8′ x 10′ for the interior. Each unit comes with heat, insulation, and electricity, similar to a small bedroom.
Swift Haven will be in operation until Spring of 2021, where it will be moved to a more long-term site. Swift haven will start with tents, and as the modular structures become available within the coming weeks, all tents will be replaced with modular structures.
Because of the emergency nature of the encampment, it did not go through the city’s standard review process, which normally takes a few months.
However, HomesNOW wants to be great neighbors to the Puget neighborhood and we wanted to answer any questions or concerns about Swift Haven, and make the neighborhood feel more at ease as a result. We are doing a series of Zoom meetings to answer any of those questions or concerns.
If you live in the Puget neighborhood, or if you live in another neighborhood where HomesNOW has been hosted, please make it to the meeting if you can.
Link to HomesNOW Neighborhood meeting times regarding Swift Haven.
The two zoom meetings will take place over Zoom:
Tuesday, December 15th at 6PM:
Sunday, December 20th at 11AM:
Also when setting up Swift Haven there are going to be startup costs. The city has provided a site for us to operate, and the basic infrastructure to support a site, including porta-potties, monthly utilities, shipping containers for storage and a shipping container style admin office. The county is also providing modular structures so that people don’t have to stay in tents and they can upgrade to tiny homes.
HomesNOW will be providing everything else, including furnishings for the tiny home units (beds, dressers, shelves, desks, internet, water pumps, as well as Kitchen/Laundry facilities). HomesNOW will also be making sure that each resident has access to the internet including help with phones, and laptops. This will help new residents in applying to jobs or services that they need that otherwise might not be available to them. In the meantime, HomesNOW will have a “community computer” for those who do not have these devices yet. When we buy phones and laptops, we buy affordable used and refurbished models that still have good performance. Since my main skillset as my day-job is Information Technology services and hardware, I can find the best “bang for buck” deals in order to affordably get it done and provide solid internet and digital access for 28 residents. For the new site, HomesNOW has already interviewed and accepted 4 future residents.
We expect these startup costs to be around $3000. If you have any money to donate, we would really appreciate it and it helps us move even faster with confidence. I want to remind everybody that HomesNOW is an all volunteer organization and we have no paid staff. 95% of your donations go directly to where they’re needed most. What about the other 5%? It goes toward things like gas for transportation if people are doing a lot of driving for HomesNOW, or purchases needed by HomesNOW such as office supplies, a computer, printer, etc.
Also the work is not done, with our latest site, we’ll be able to help 28 people, but there’s around 1000+ people in Whatcom County who still need help, and there’s not enough adequate sheltering.
We all need to work together, to keep the pressure on for more actions.
We will know more in the coming days and weeks and will keep you all updated.