Hello, this is Doug from HomesNOW Not later. Sorry, it’s been a while since my last video, the holiday season is always busy and there’s been a lot of stuff going on. I wanted to share some of the highlights though.
Operations at Unity Village continue to go smoothly. With the model of self-governance, the residents of Unity Village have been able to manage their own day to day challenges and operations. I am truly proud of them. I hope that we can keep Unity Village going since it’s clear and obvious that it’s a successful model overall, both in terms of cost, and in terms of results.
The Petition to extend Unity Village is in full swing. We have collected a few hundred signatures but we need every signature we can get. We are asking the City of Bellingham to extend our permit at the current site located at 210 McKenzie Avenue Bellingham WA 98225 past the original April 30th 2020 end date. Our logic for why, is that this land that Unity Village is sitting on will not be developed for a few years when the wastewater treatment plant expands. Why not let us stay until the land is going to be used for something else? We have included a link to the PDF file of the petition. If you want to print out some petitions and get signatures and get them back to us, that would help us out a lot. At the very least, an extension until the end of summer would allow us to move the structures when the weather is better and allow us more time to move everything in an orderly way.
Once our stay at the Fairhaven location is concluded, we are hoping to move Unity Village to another City site. The next site that we would like to have access to, in order to move Unity Village is the Clean Green site, located at the intersection of Woburn and Lakeway, accross the street from the Bay View Cemetary, near the community gardens. This site had previously been used to for the disposal of yard waste, but the program has subsequently been discontinued and so the lot sits empty. In a number of years it is slated to be used for low-income housing development. Until that construction begins, we request that we could use that site for the longest term duration possible.
Petition to extend Unity Village:
Also there is a Fairhaven neighborhood association meeting on January 8th, where the Planning Director of Bellingham, Rick Sepler, plans to update the neighborhood on the status of Unity Village. A few of the residents and myself plan to attend. We welcome anybody else who wants to attend as well. Every voice matters.
When we proposed the Clean Green site a few weeks ago, the city expressed to us that it wasn’t just the city’s job to cater to allowing homeless relief services, such as what HomesNOW provides. I agree that it’s not just their job either, it’s all of our jobs, it’s all of our responsibility as members of the community. The city asked us to communicate with the County about another site before we come back to them with a proposal for a site to move Unity Village to.
Last week, Markis and I met with Satpal Sidhu, who was recently elected Whatcom County Executive. We identified a number of possible sites that could be obtained through the county. Satpal was very supportive and indicated that he thought the County could do a lot to help. However he said that he was not interested in a site to move Unity Village to, but was instead interested in a second site (in other words a second village). We are very supportive of that goal. HomesNOW wants to expand and set up more villages. We want to work with the local governments as well as Private land owners to set up more villages and help more people.
On that note, have a private land owner who has stepped up and wants us to set up a village on their land. The land owner, as well as Markis, Satpal and myself are met today to discuss how we can move this forward as quickly as possible. The site is on Meridian, just outside the city limits, so it falls under Whatcom County jurisdiction. It is also located within the Urban Growth Area of Bellingham. This would be for a second site, not a site to move Unity Village to.
Today we are officially releasing our fundraiser “Land Now! Not Later.”. The funds will be used to build a second village, move Unity Village to a new site, develop the new 2nd site, building new structures, and improvements to the site such as septic system, water and electricity.
If you can donate, we appreciate any help you can provide and your money will go directly toward these goals. Setting up a second village and moving the existing village is going to be a logistical challenge, and will cost money, even though it can be done and we can handle it. When we set up the second village, we will also need a lot of volunteers to help set it up. We will need professionals to help volunteer their time and expertise to ensure the second village is a success. Remember, HomesNOW has no paid staff, and virtually all of the money that we bring in goes directly toward the goal of housing people.
In order to secure this long-term site, we are raising money to buy land and structures with the purpose of providing housing and homeless relief services right now, not later.
HomesNOW has a proven track record, providing a stable and affordable living situation to help people get back on their feet, with around a 30% rehousing rate. We need your help in order to keep Unity Village alive and establish additional villages. The donations raised from this fundraiser will be used for the construction of a second village and building the infrastructure on the land to facilitate the village.
Here is a link to the fundraiser:
Whether it’s $1 or $10,000, it all adds up. Let’s end the problem of homelessness NOW! Not Later. In order to successfully pull it off we are going to need funding and volunteers. If you would like to volunteer, please fill out a form on our website at:
Any member of the general public or those who want to volunteer are also free to show up to any of our events, or to visit Unity Village during the day. The reason for filling out a form on our website, is so that depending on your skill-set, we have a database of it, and so for example, if we suddenly needed a lot of construction help, we would directly contact everyone who put down construction experience on their volunteer form.
We will keep all of you updated on the progress. Speaking of Volunteer opportunities and events, there is a Bellingham City Council Meeting on January 27th. The main topic of this meeting is discussing changes to ordinance which allowed Winter Haven, Safe Haven, and Unity Village to exist. There will also be time for public comment period, in which any of you can have 3 minutes to speak about anything you want to speak on. If you would like to make changes to the ordinance or would like to speak in support of Unity Village and being able to move to another site after this site runs out, the more the merrier. We need you to come to this if you can. A new set of Council members, as well as a new mayor, will be present at this meeting. Please make it if you can.
Also as the last and least important note. I was recently on a new show called Bellingham Tonight last Tuesday, it was a show in which it was a roundtable from various organizations in town to help homeless individuals. It was HomesNOW, the Lighthouse Mission, Lydia Place, and The Food Bank. If you haven’t checked it out, here’s the link. Also there was a great Q&A which hasn’t been uploaded yet. When it becomes available, we will share that part as well.
Here is a link to that episode:
Thank you all for supporting us over the years. Without you, HomesNOW would not exist, and would not have had success. Happy Holidays, and Good Luck!