Unity Village

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Unity Village 2018-10-22T22:11:55+00:00

Unity Village serves as a navigation center for unhoused residents experiencing homelessness. This temporary housing provides a point of stability needed for transition to permanent housing. The facility is divided into two sections: tents and a tiny homes village. The tents are temporary until enough tiny homes can be built. In order to build more, we rely on donations from the general public. If you’d like to donate, here’s our donation page.

The camp consists of up to 15 tents that are either single or double occupancy (with a maximum of 30 residents).  The tiny home village consists of 6 tiny homes with room for growth up to 12 tiny homes total.  The tiny homes are either single or double occupancy (with a maximum of 24 residents).  Assuming up to half of the tiny homes and tents will be double occupancy, there is a maximum of 40 residents.  Both the tiny home village and the camp provides residents with a secure, stable location to live and store their belongings.

The entire facility is surrounded by a 6-foot tall chain link fence for the security of the tent and tiny home residents.  The fence requires one main gate to serve as the entrance, one emergency exit, and one additional gate to provide access for material delivery and the shower truck.  The intake building is located near the main entrance in proximity to a storage building and the case management office.

The facility includes three large community tents:

  • Kitchen area
  • Dining area
  • Community gathering area

The tiny homes sector services two portable toilets and a handwashing station.  The tent sector services three portable toilets and a handwashing station.  An additional handwashing station is located near the kitchen area.  The mobile shower truck built by Homes NOW has a designated parking location to provide resident shower use.

Project Incentive

As of 2016, according to Washington State Department of Commerce Annual Point in Time Count, there are over 800 homeless people in Whatcom County. Approximately half of the homeless people in Whatcom County are unsheltered on a given night.  Many homeless people are forced to illegally camp on public or private property or sleep in their cars.

Because many homeless people have to camp illegally, they are often forced to move, resulting in instability and loss of personal belongings.  Homeless people also lack access to basic human necessities, including bathrooms, showers, drinking water, cooking facilities, garbage services, etc.  Many homeless people are forced to carry all of their belongings with them at all times, which often prevents them from being able to seek employment.

The proposed project provides a safe legal place for our homeless neighbors to live.  This facility gives access to basic human necessities, such as bathroom and kitchen facilities, garbage/recycling service, and mailboxes, as well as a sense of safety and community.

This facility also serves as a central location for service providers to meet with residents to determine individual needs of each resident. The primary objective is to provide the stability needed to overcome obstacles. Navigation centers offer a fail-safe for individuals experiencing hardships. Hardships are alleviated when basic needs for personal care are made accessible. It is at this juncture that each resident can improve their circumstances with a personal plan for self-care and an individualized plan coordinated with outreach groups.

Project Funding

Homes NOW is 100% funded by donations and operated by volunteers.

Homes NOW is not requesting any taxpayer funds from Whatcom County.

Homes NOW minimal rent-payment model offsets the costs of operating the site.

  • Rent is 10% of the resident’s income or $150 per month, whichever is lower.
  • Utilities are included in rent.
  • Rent is based on the residents’ ability to pay.

 

This rent-payment model helps residents transition to regular housing with greater ease by developing a familiarity with typical expectations of paying rent and maintaining a budget.

The project in overall functionality is no cost to the County.  In fact, the project potentially reduces the $4.5 million that the County currently spends to address homelessness by providing housing to homeless individuals who are positioned for self-management and long-term care, allowing them to transition from homelessness into a stable situation.

Insurance

Liability insurance by Farmers Insurance.

Site Evaluation

Homes NOW working with the County has identified suitable land to use for this project. Four potential sites identified and evaluated based on their suitability.

When evaluating the sites, the following factors are included:

  1. Proximity to existing Whatcom County residents
  2. Proximity to services and amenities (bus stops, libraries, grocery stores, employers, etc.)
  3. Size and suitability of the land for constructing tiny homes and tent sites
  4. Access to utilities (electric, water, sewer, etc.)
  5. Site proposed meets 200-foot by 125-foot area (approximately 0.57 acres)

If you’d like to read more about Unity Village, here is our Handbook