The Lighthouse Mission’s remodel of its campus in Bellingham’s Old Town, including planning for a new facility, continues to move forward thanks to generous supporters and the hard work of the Lighthouse Mission team. Estimated cost of the project is $23 million, which includes additional programming costs.
The new facility, which will be on Lighthouse Mission-owned property on 910 W. Holly St., will replace the 24-hour Base Camp homeless service center on 1530 Cornwall Ave. It will offer 300 beds total, including 200 low-barrier beds and 100 micro-shelter beds for families, working guests, elderly guests, and guests requiring mental health care. Additional severe-weather overflow capacity will be available.
The Lighthouse Mission continues the permit approval process for the proposed new facility. In February 2022, the Ascent Men’s Recovery Program successfully moved from the 910 W. Holly Street building into the newly remodeled New Life Center to make way for anticipated demolition of the existing 910 W. Holly Street building.
Demolition is slated to begin in January or February 2023. The public fundraising phase for the new facility begins this September, and construction begins March-April 2023. Completion of its construction is projected for early 2024, with a June move-in.
“The facility will offer vital services to people experiencing homelessness,” said Hans Erchinger-Davis, president & CEO of the Lighthouse Mission. “A medical clinic in the new facility will include three exam rooms to provide better care for the health of our guests. Our temporary Base Camp facility has just one exam room due to limited space.”
Erchinger-Davis added that the building will be five stories tall with 15,000 square feet per floor. It will include meeting rooms for community agencies to come meet with guests and connect them to the services they need.
“We couldn’t do what we do without our community partners,” Erchinger-Davis said. “Our work can never be done in a vacuum. It takes a village, and the team-approach made possible with this new facility will be an expression of that.”
Other improvements in the works include increased laundry capacity, an expanded kitchen, entrepreneurial suites and both daytime and nighttime spaces for guests, Erchinger-Davis said.
“Expanding our kitchen and adding micro-shelters will allow us to continue providing meals for our most vulnerable friends and neighbors,” Erchinger-Davis said. “All of these improvements will aid in the care and recovery of our guests.”
A large day room space will be connected to a large outdoor deck by an indoor-outdoor fireplace. This outdoor area will provide a safe, open way for people to enjoy the fresh air during the day. The day room and the multiple decks will provide a great alternative to living out in the streets, Erchinger-Davis said.
The Lighthouse Mission is continually working to be a positive presence in the neighborhood. The new facility’s site plan has been carefully thought out to encourage safety and healthy engagement with the Old Town area. Examples include best-practice lighting standards and natural sight lines through the use of strategically placed windows.
There will be one entrance and one exit on the Astor Street side of the property, plus a separate entrance for micro-shelter guests on the southwest side of the building. The facility will have video surveillance, be staffed 24/7, and staff will walk around the building regularly to check on things and pick up litter.
At the temporary Base Camp homeless service center, families have been staying in “flex dorms” that provide a quieter place for families to stay. However, Erchinger-Davis said these flex dorms were not specifically designed for families and the Lighthouse Mission would like to make the environment even more functional and welcoming. For this reason, the new facility will include a family micro-shelter that is specifically designed to offer short-term care for men and/or women with children. This space will include a deck, a community kitchenette, and a play area for children. These new family dorms will help create a safe and peaceful environment in which families can get back on their feet.
The new facility will also include a chapel in order to continue to provide voluntary pastoral counseling, Bible studies, and worship services for guests who would like to participate. The Lighthouse Mission is the only overnight, low-barrier homeless service center north of Everett. Lighthouse Mission Ministries maintains its identity as a Christian organization with its mission of healing homelessness with Christ’s power and love.
Three entrepreneurial suites located on the first floor will host three small businesses. The businesses will be open to the public and will create employment opportunities for graduates from our recovery programs.
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Lighthouse Mission Ministries has been helping people who are homeless since 1923. It cares for up to 310 people each day and provides a continuum of services aimed at ending homelessness through street outreach, enhanced shelters, addiction recovery, spiritual support, and aftercare. To make a donation or volunteer, call (360) 733-5120, or visit www.thelighthousemission.org.