Winter Haven is a proposed temporary safe camping site for the local homeless community. The project will begin around December 2018 or January 2019 and will last until March 2019. The site will consist of 20 tents that will be either single or double occupancy. Winter Haven will be a drug and alcohol-free camp. Residents will be selected based on a rigorous screening process with input from the HOT team. Winter Haven residents will likely consist of people who are either working or disabled and who have a source of income. Residents will be hand-picked based on their likelihood to succeed in this community living setting. Residents will be required to follow a strict code of conduct, which includes requirements for behavior, quiet hours, guest policies, cleanliness, and participation in community chores.
The Bellingham Police Department will be provided with a complete list of residents including full name and date of birth. The police will check each prospective resident for active warrants or a match on the sex offender list. The site will be surrounded by a 6-foot chain link fence. A reception office will be located near the front gate and will be staffed 24-hours per day, 7 days per week. The site will be monitored by 24/7 surveillance to protect the site residents as well as neighbors. Winter Haven will serve as a central location where individuals and organizations can provide
food and clothing donations to the homeless individuals. The Sikh community will provide a community meal once per week for the site residents.
Purpose of this Project
As of 2018, 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 or maintain employment. The proposed project provides a safe legal place for our homeless neighbors to live. Winter Haven will give access to basic human necessities, such as bathroom and kitchen facilities, garbage/recycling service, as well as a sense of safety and community.
Homes NOW is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization made entirely of volunteers working together to offer affordable housing options for the homeless in Bellingham and Whatcom County. Homes NOW supports the Housing First model to house homeless people immediately. The goal is for each person to have a sense of home and community. Homes NOW previously worked with Lummi Nation to build two tiny homes in June and July 2017, which temporarily housed 8 people transitioning to permanent housing. On average, occupancy is 2 to 3 months before moving into permanent housing.
In 2017, Homes NOW assisted 25 people into housing by eliminating barriers. Homes NOW provided: telephone access, avenues for reconnecting family members, assistance with rental applications for those having difficulty reading and/or writing, direction for people entering detox programs, and the stability of an organized permitted camp site. Homes NOW is 100% funded by donations. Our goal is to have a commitment from sponsors for the full cost of the project prior to initiating use of the site. Homes NOW is not requesting any taxpayer funds from the City of Bellingham.