After three months at Bellingham High School, the Mission’s Base Camp, formerly known as the Drop-In Center, needs to move again as the high school prepares to reopen for students. It has become increasingly clear that Base Camp will not be able to return to its original location for the foreseeable future.
Base Camp needs enough space for all who are seeking shelter and space for guests to practice social distancing. Hans Erchinger-Davis, Executive Director of the Mission, in cooperation with Whatcom Unified Command, identified multiple potential site locations and conducted a feasibility study on each to narrow the choices. A new temporary location for the Base Camp has now been selected. The temporary Base Camp will be at 1530 Cornwall Ave, where a facility will be established in partnership with the City of Bellingham and Whatcom County. Please read below for answers to more specific questions.
We’re grateful for your support and that of our community! You enable us to care for our most vulnerable neighbors and protect our broader community during this pandemic.
A huge thank you again to Bellingham High School and Bellingham Public Schools for hosting Base Camp and providing help to neighbors who needed it most at a crucial time! In the words of one of our guests: “Thank you for opening up Bellingham High School for all of us at the Drop-In Center.”
Who is this for? Who will benefit from this? Anyone who needs a place to stay or a meal is welcome at Base Camp. By maintaining social distancing and health practices, this move benefits our entire community. When one population is protected and cared for, especially a vulnerable one like unhoused neighbors, it benefits the whole.
Who is making it possible? People like you who give, pray, and otherwise support the Mission, and a partnership with the City of Bellingham and Whatcom County is making this move and new temporary facility possible.
What services will be offered? All Base Camp’s usual services will continue: Prayer and Bible studies, 24/7 shelter, showers, restrooms, breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, supervision, support, and resource referrals.
What is the capacity of this new facility? There is space for up to 200 adults to get a good night’s rest and to spend the day.
What will the facility look like? This facility has a dedicated nighttime sleeping space where mattresses, linens, and personal belongings can be stored. There is a community room for day use and eating meals. We will rent shower and laundry facilities and there is some outdoor space that will be nicely fenced so people can spend time in the fresh air and sun.
How long has Base Camp been at Bellingham High School? Since March 15. We are so grateful for Bellingham High School’s hospitality and for filling this crucial need in our community. It will move to 1530 Cornwall Ave by July 15.
Why does Base Camp need to move again? Bellingham High School needs to prepare for school to resume. We are grateful for their hospitality in letting us use their space for the past three months!
Base Camp cannot return to its original location at 1013 W Holly St while social distancing and other restrictions are in place. Over 500 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. The original Mission facility would now only accommodate 50 people following CDC guidelines for homeless shelters, leaving 110 people out on the streets to fend for themselves. We don’t want to have to turn anyone away because of capacity restraints. It is in the best interest of our unhoused neighbors and Whatcom County in general for there to be another temporary location in place to shelter and care for these vulnerable neighbors.
As you can tell, there is a huge need right now when it comes to our neighbors who are homeless. We are also looking to the future. Because of the effects of coronavirus, we anticipate that homelessness will increase in the next few years. Unemployment rates are very high, mental health has decreased, and alcohol and cannabis use are up, and all of those are contributing causes of homelessness.
When will the move happen? Base Camp will move by July 15, 2020.
Where is the new temporary location for Base Camp? On the intersection of Cornwall and York St at 1530 Cornwall Ave in Bellingham. This building was most recently leased by Terra Organica and is known as the public market building.
Why this location? The City of Bellingham, Whatcom County, and Lighthouse Mission worked together and identified that this is the best available space right now. The public market building is available immediately, has enough space for social distancing, adequate restroom facilities for the expected number of guests, and is within walking distance to public transportation and other necessary services.
How long will Base Camp be in this location? About 3 – 4 years, giving the Mission that will give LMM enough time to construct a new, permanent location in Old Town.
Who is funding what part of this project? The City of Bellingham and Whatcom County have committed funds towards the cost to build the facility and get the building ready to serve folks and will reimburse Lighthouse Mission Ministries for those costs. The Mission will continue to rely on donations from individual donors to cover the expenses of Base Camp’s daily operation. Expenses are expected to increase at this new temporary facility to about $500,000 a year.
Does anything change for the Mission because you’re working with the city and county? Not at all. Our identity and values remain unchanged. LMM is completely in control of how Base Camp is run and we maintain our freedom to share the gospel and the hope we have (although there are no religious requirements for guests to receive any services offered at Base Camp). We love because Jesus loves.
“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,” says the Mission’s Executive Director, Hans Erchinger-Davis.
How can I help?
- The best way you can help right now is to make a financial donation to support Base Camp if you can.
- Consider volunteering in the future when opportunities open up again.
- Pray for the Mission and your neighbors experiencing homelessness – for their health, safety, and that they may come to know the Lord.
The City of Bellingham has also posted FAQs here.
Questions and concerns about Base Camp’s move can be directed to Jessica Hess: email or call 360-733-5120 ext. 103.