Lighthouse Mission Ministries Moves
Base Camp to Cornwall Avenue Site
Lighthouse Mission Ministries moved today its Base Camp (formerly the Drop-In Center) for sheltering people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic to 1530 Cornwall Ave. in downtown Bellingham, where it will operate for 3-4 years while a permanent location is selected and developed.
After four months at Bellingham High School, the Base Camp needed to move as the high school prepares to reopen for students. Under the direction of the Whatcom County Health Department due to the pandemic, it became increasingly clear that Base Camp couldn’t return to its original location at 1013 Holly St. because it didn’t have enough space for all who are seeking shelter and space for guests to practice social distancing.
“We are tremendously grateful to the Bellingham School District and Bellingham High School for allowing us to use their facilities,” said Hans Erchinger-Davis, Executive Director of the Lighthouse Mission Ministries. “Nearly 600 unique individuals have come to Base Camp needing a safe place to sleep since the pandemic began, with 160-170 people being housed each night. If Base Camp was still on Holly Street, over 110 people would be turned away each night in order to comply with CDC guidelines for homeless shelters.
Base Camp now has moved to 25,106-square-foot space in the Bellingham Public Market. It has been unoccupied for two years and was previously leased by Terra Organica.
“We have received amazing downtown support and are working together to address concerns of neighboring businesses and residents,” Erchinger-Davis said. “We have developed resources to offer local businesses and are hiring for a Downtown Resource Coordinator. If people or businesses have any concerns about Base Camp, they can email or call (360) 733-5120.”
The Public Market building is available for up to 4 years, which will give the Lighthouse Mission enough time to construct a new, permanent location in Old Town, he added.
All of Base Camp’s emergency services will continue at this new temporary location. This 24/7 enhanced shelter offers the following services: free breakfast, lunch, and dinner, restrooms, laundry, showers, resource referrals, case management, emotional and spiritual support from staff and volunteers, a cafe, and voluntary prayer and Bible studies.
Anyone who needs a safe place to stay or a meal is welcome at Base Camp, and services are offered without discrimination, Erchinger-Davis said.
“By maintaining social distancing and health practices, this move benefits our entire community,” he said. “We haven’t had a single guest who has tested positive for COVID-19.”
The new temporary Base Camp location offers space for up to 200 adults to get a good night’s rest and to spend the day. This facility has a dedicated nighttime sleeping space and a community room for day use and eating meals. Showers and laundry facilities have been installed as well as a large privacy-fenced courtyard so people can safely spend time outdoors on the property.
“Colacurcio Brothers Construction and the City of Bellingham have done an amazing job to complete this in just a few weeks,” Erchinger-Davis said.
The City of Bellingham and Whatcom County committed funds toward the cost to modify the facility and get the building ready to serve people. Lighthouse Mission Ministries will continue to rely on private donations from individual supporters to cover the expenses of Base Camp’s daily operation. Expenses are expected to increase at this new temporary facility to about $700,000 a year.
There are no religious requirements for guests to receive any services offered at Base Camp. Lighthouse Mission maintains its identity and values as a Christian organization with its mission of healing homelessness through Christ’s power and love.
Erchinger-Davis said, “We are excited to continue the life-saving gospel work of caring for our friends and neighbors who are homeless at this new temporary location for Base Camp.”