Why did the Drop-In Center move?
The Drop-In Center (DIC) moved because the 1013 W Holly St location did not meet the social distancing recommendations put forth by the CDC, Whatcom County Health Department, and the State of Washington due to the Covid-19 public health crisis. Unified Command, established by declaration of a ‘State of Emergency’ in Washington, worked with Lighthouse Mission Ministries (LMM) to manage the logistics of the move to Bellingham High School. The extra space provided accommodates up to 200 people while supporting the safe social distancing protocols mandated by our Governor.
What changes were required of the Lighthouse Mission for the Drop-In Center to move?
Once the decision was made in cooperation with LMM, the City of Bellingham, Whatcom County Health Department, the Bellingham School District, and Unified Command, an aggressive timeline was set to move Mission guests to the more accommodating facility as soon as possible. Unified Command asked that Lighthouse Mission add an additional one to two Independent Contractors per shift, add a dedicated outside security detail around the clock, and requested a constant police presence from the City of Bellingham. Once these conditions were met, the Bellingham School District released Bellingham High School to be used as the temporary LMM Drop-In Center.
Does anyone at the Mission have Covid-19?
At the time of this post, no guests, staff, or volunteers of Lighthouse Mission Ministries programs are known to have contracted the virus. Plans are in place for care and quarantine if and when that happens.
What services are offered at the Drop-In Center?
The Drop-In Center is the point of entry for most essential homeless services in our community. It stabilizes incoming guests, introduces them to a lifesaving relationship with Jesus Christ, and provides a motivational environment that encourages life-change. Services include safe, warm 24/7 shelter, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, showers, referrals, and crisis support from staff and volunteers.
What expenses are involved and who is paying for them?
Moving the Drop-In Center has increased expenses for Lighthouse Mission Ministries, which is privately supported by donations from individuals like you, as well as local churches and businesses. The Mission incurred un-budgeted costs due to the additional staff hours needed to relocate the 160 guests of the DIC and now manage a higher volume of guests (30 more than average, daily), plus the additional supplies needed. Unified Command required the new location to have paid security and trained contractors to support the existing DIC staff. Whatcom County received an emergency housing grant for $905,821 and is using about $525,000 of that to cover costs of the DIC move potentially through August. The County is directly paying the security detail, laundry services, and reimbursing the School District for utilities and DIC meals they prepare. LMM is only being reimbursed for the trained contractors we’re required to use.
What kind of cleaning and disinfecting practices are in place at the new Drop-In Center?
Lighthouse Mission has always sought to maintain a high level of sanitation in the interest of safety for all it serves. The Mission continues to maintain this high standard at Bellingham High School in collaboration with the Whatcom County Health Department and the Community Paramedic Program. Both the WCHD and the CPP have reviewed, inspected, and approved the cleaning practices for the Drop-In Center and continue to partner closely with LMM to ensure best current practices are used in this new location.
What rules and security are in place at the new Drop-In Center?
The Drop-In Center Code of Conduct remains the same, with the goal of keeping guests, staff, volunteers, and the neighborhood safe by providing and focusing on self-respect, non-violence, anti-drug and anti-harassment guidelines. These additional guidelines were added for the temporary Drop-In Center at the Bellingham High School location. Regular inspections of the entire campus are done daily to ensure adherence to these guidelines and additional staff have been hired to help maintain safety for guests and Bellingham High School.