Back in October we expanded our Drop-In Center operation to 24-hours a day, adding 80 beds to our existing 150 – a sizable increase. We knew the facility’s limitations, but knew it was the only option for the precious homeless on our streets facing the coldest winter in recent history. We hit capacity (120 people) 10 times this winter with a record night of 128 people. Thankfully, a nearby church partnered with us to handle our overflow.
The need has been growing, and we began meeting with the City of Bellingham to identify a new site for this program. Due to the City’s future vision of the Old Town neighborhood they wouldn’t allow us to expand near our existing facilities. We also wanted a location that would reduce the impact that vulnerable populations can have on a neighborhood, as well as address the facility’s capacity constraints and its lack of showers, adequate bathroom facilities, earthquake resistance, fire suppression, and storage space.
Well, the Lord is good! The long search is over, and a new location has been identified on City owned property literally one block away in an adjacent industrial neighborhood. It’s on the west side of Roeder Avenue between C and F Streets at 801/807 Roeder Avenue. It has no residences or retail businesses, but it’s close enough to maintain efficiencies with our existing operations.
The City has agreed to lease us the land for $1 a year for 75 years, sell us the buildings for $1 each, and then help pay for some of the night-time shelter’s services. On our end, we will be tasked with renovating the building (to the tune of $1.5 million) and the ongoing operational costs. This will enable us to shelter 200 people, point them to a life-saving relationship with Jesus, and offer them a fighting chance at life again.
Since we would own the building, we will still offer Chapel Services, prayer, and Bible studies. The City strongly supports Lighthouse Mission Ministries, but must maintain separation of Church and State. Thus the City has pledged supportive funds for the sleeping hours only from 8pm to 7am when no “religious activity” is occurring due to everyone being asleep. This additional income by no means covers the total cost of running such a program, but it certainly helps. We will continue to be dependent on God’s grace and your generosity to bridge the gap.
Like the Drop-In Center, the purpose of the new shelter will be to stabilize incoming guests, introduce them to a lifesaving relationship with Jesus Christ, offer homeless assessment, and provide a motivational environment that encourages life-change. It will continue to offer guests three nutritious meals a day, 24/7 shelter, and connection with local resources. Supportive staff and volunteers are always available to talk and encourage guests to take the next steps into higher levels of LMM recovery programming.
Please be assured that no agreement would have been reached with the City if it would have limited our freedom to share the Gospel in any way. We will always remain true to the heart of what the Mission is and has always been about: Restoring people through Christ.
Please contact us with any questions you have. I would appreciate the opportunity to talk with you in person to explain this in more detail.
I’m excited to be embarking on this journey with you! You are truly a blessing.
Your partner in Kingdom work,