Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville has been meeting and in communication with Whatcom County, the Port of Bellingham, City staff and our partnering service providers throughout the day today to ensure coordinated shelter services through this weekend's cold weather event.
The Lighthouse Mission Ministries (LMM) Drop-In Center on Holly Street remains open 24 hours per day and has capacity. Last night they served 160 guests but still had 30 beds open and available and did not have to activate an additional 30 beds at the Fountain Community Church. LMM expects similar numbers tonight, but in an abundance of caution, Fountain Community Church will be activating additional beds tonight, so we anticipate a total of 60 open beds will be available. The City will also continue to have a room in the central library available during the day for women staying in the night shelter at Fountain Community Church.
LMM is asking that the public respect their guests and staff and stay away from the shelter at night unless they are helping someone in need of services. They reported that several members of the public came to the shelter late last night seeking information and asking for tours of the facility, and they are asking that the public respect the dignity and privacy of their guests and allow them to sleep during these cold winter nights. Unfortunately, they did have one person who was accidentally turned away last night because the staff person believed the shelter was full, but they are working with staff to make sure that does not happen again. Everyone is welcome at the shelter, and the only exception is if the person has a history of violent offenses.
The Mission does not expect to reach capacity over the weekend, but if they do, the City of Bellingham is in constant contact with them and our partners to make sure everyone has an opportunity to be safe during these cold winter days and nights. Our emergency management team is also standing by to activate an emergency cold weather plan if needed. We will be providing public messaging throughout the weekend to keep the public informed.
For more information
For information on the City of Bellingham's 2019 winter actions to address homelessness, including the City's hotel voucher program through Lydia Place and the Opportunity Council, visit www.cob.org/services/housing/homeless/Pages/2019-winter-actions.aspx.
For information on the Lighthouse Mission Ministries or to volunteer or donate, visit www.thelighthousemission.org/
For information on homelessness and services in Whatcom County, visit the Whatcom Homeless Service Center at www.whatcomhsc.org/