November 10, 2021

Lighthouse Mission Q&A: Fall 2021

The Lighthouse Mission works throughout Whatcom County to break the cycle of homelessness in the lives of people experiencing it. Because of the generosity of people like you, those in need can come to the Mission for nutritious meals, safe shelter, and one-on-one case management.  

Here are a few common questions and answers about our campus remodel and other operations at the Lighthouse Mission. Any questions or concerns can be sent to contact@thelighthousemission.org.

Q: Is the Lighthouse Mission going to keep Base Camp permanently on Cornwall Avenue?

A: Base Camp is a temporary solution while a more permanent facility is being developed. The plan is to remodel our existing campus buildings to expand the Lighthouse Mission’s Recovery Program and build a larger facility that meets the greater need in our community for those experiencing homelessness. 

  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our 24-hour, low-barrier shelter was moved on an emergency basis from the former Drop In Center in Old Town to Bellingham High School so that staff and guests could practice social distancing to keep safe from Covid. 
  • After a few months, another temporary location was found at 1530 Cornwall Ave. The program was renamed Base Camp and has space for up to 200 people to stay the night. 
  • The Lighthouse Mission’s lease for Base Camp with the City of Bellingham ends in July 2024.

Q: Is the new Lighthouse Mission facility going to house 5,000 people?

A: The new facility will increase our overnight capacity by 100 people (going from 200 beds to 300 beds). The number of total beds available overnight will go from 200 beds to 300 beds, with additional overflow capacity of 100 during severe weather.

  • Our yearly impact will expand to include 5,000 people. This impact includes outreach to people in homeless encampments, people on the streets, people in our recovery programs, people we assist with after-care after they stay with us, people who visit the Lighthouse Mission for meals, and people who stay at our 24/7 low-barrier shelter. 
  • However, our low-barrier shelter is just one aspect of our impact. The people we serve would never all be inside the Lighthouse Mission at once.
  • This new facility will include several specialized “micro shelters” for families, working guests, elderly guests, and guests requiring mental health care. 

Q: Is the Lighthouse Mission advertising for people to come from other areas?

A: We only advertise to inform, inspire, and give opportunities for financial donations–we never invite guests to come from other areas. 

  • The Lighthouse Mission advertises in counties and cities north of Everett. Our radio and television ads are broadcast through Comcast, Praise 106.5, KGMI, and on their streaming services.
  • When we advertise, we ask for people to partner with us financially or to volunteer. We also seek to build awareness of homelessness in our community and county. 
  • The Lighthouse Mission can often be mistaken for other ‘Lighthouse’ Missions in the U.S. such as the Lighthouse Rescue Mission in Tulare, California, the Lighthouse Mission in New York, and Lighthouse Social Service Centers in Colton, California. 

Q: Is the Lighthouse Mission aware of the negative impacts that may increase in the neighborhood surrounding the new facility?

A: We realize that the move could create the potential for increased litter and other disruptive activities in the area surrounding the Lighthouse Mission. We plan to do our best to mitigate negative impacts by:

  • Developing a mobile team to touch base and problem-solve with both neighbors and people experiencing homelessness.
  • To mitigate litter, we will make rounds to clean up the area surrounding the new building, and provide multiple trash bins at the facility entrance and in the immediate surrounding area. 
  • Monthly service projects will serve as an additional effort to beautify the neighborhood.

Q: Does the Lighthouse Mission care about the neighborhood’s safety?

A: Yes, your safety is important to us. Here are a few of the safety measures in the works for our new facility: 

  • The facility will have video surveillance, be staffed 24/7, and staff will walk around the building regularly to check on things and address individuals engaging in problematic behavior.
  • Multiple large outdoor deck spaces have been designed to better accommodate individuals who would otherwise congregate around or near the shelter. 
  • Additional strategies are underway to further deter loitering or camping in tents and/or vehicles adjacent to the site. 
  • There will be one entrance and one exit on the Astor Street side of the property that is considered a critical part of our safety design. This is undergoing significant review to ensure safety and aesthetic for our guests and neighbors. There will be a separate entrance for families on the southwest side of the building.
  • LMM will adhere to all safety and security conditions within the City’s Interim Housing Code (BMC 20.15A). Through the review process, the City and LMM will also develop  appropriate strategies and conditions to address concerns raised during the public comment period. In doing so, it is our hope that the community will not only remain safe, but also become a safer place than it was previously. 

Q: Is the Lighthouse Mission’s new facility just going to offer an “out” for people to continue in homelessness for free?

A: The ministry model at the Lighthouse Mission model is outreach, recovery, and restoration. We reach out to people, help connect them to resources and support so they can be restored, and then assist them in recovery throughout all aspects of life, including finding stable housing and employment. 

  • We are responding to an increased population of vulnerable people. The need has been rising with Covid-19 in our country, state and county, and the planned facility is a response to the need. 
  • This quote from the 2021 Whatcom County Point-In-Time Census provides a snapshot of the situation in our county:

“The year-over-year change between 2020 and 2021 was a 22% increase in homeless persons counted (from 707 homeless persons in 2020 to 859 in 2021), and the total number of homeless individuals was the highest total number since counting began in 2008. The year-over-year change in number of homeless households increased by 13% between 2020 and 2021 (from 555 households to 625 households), and also is the highest number reported since counting began in 2008.”

  • People with serious mental health conditions are often unable to maintain stable housing and end up homeless and isolated. At the Lighthouse Mission, they can find community, get the support they need, and find the tools to build a stable, healthy life.

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As a Christian gospel ministry, LMM is completely supported by our generous local community.
OUR MISSION
OUR MISSION : Healing homelessness with Christ's power and love
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