The Bellingham Police Department is investigating credible information that specific managing members of HomesNOW!, the not-for-profit organization that operates the Unity Village homeless encampment in Fairhaven, have misappropriated funds.
The BPD received a complaint from a HomesNOW! board member on Sept. 27 that claimed specific representatives of HomesNOW have misappropriated funds. The BPD has begun a criminal investigation and is in the very early stages of gathering information. There are no further specific details available regarding the information received in the complaint. The individuals named in the complaint are no longer part of the HomesNOW! board of directors.
HomesNOW! has operated two temporary tent encampments on City of Bellingham property, Winter Haven behind City Hall and Spring Haven in the parking lot at WhatComm off Alabama St. Unity Village, which operates a “tiny-home" village on McKenzie Avenue near the Post Point Treatment Plant, had its ribbon cutting earlier this month. All three encampments are on City of Bellingham property.
“We are disappointed by this news as operations with HomesNOW! have proven to be successful at Winter Haven, Spring Haven and now Unity Village," Bellingham Police Chief David Doll said. “We will ensure a thorough investigation is done and that those who are found responsible for criminal misconduct are held accountable."
The City of Bellingham is still engaged with HomesNOW! to ensure the safe operation of the encampments continues as it has for nearly the past year. Unity Village is permitted to operate at its current location through April 2020.
“I'm concerned about the safety of the people in the camp, and we take these allegations seriously," Mayor Kelli Linville said. “While no direct City funds are involved in the operation of HomesNOW! encampments, we have permitted the encampments and allowed them on City property. It is important to me that any individuals involved in misconduct are held accountable for their actions."
If you have any information that would assist in the investigation, please contact Lt. Claudia Murphy at (360) 778-8834 or firstname.lastname@example.org.