Interfaith Coalition breaks ground on Ferndale triplex for homeless families

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDNovember 13, 2013 

FERNDALE - A three-unit complex will provide housing for about 12 homeless families a year when completed next spring by Interfaith Coalition of Whatcom County.

Interfaith broke ground on its "Our House" project for homeless families earlier this month.

Crews will turn a single-family residence in Ferndale into a triplex to house three homeless families at a time.

Families will receive emergency and transitional housing as well as case management services, in conjunction with nonprofit Lydia Place and Opportunity Council, to help them develop skills they will need to break the cycle of homelessness, according to Interfaith.

Interfaith has nine units for homeless families - eight in Bellingham and one in Ferndale. The home's conversion will add two more in Ferndale.

About 90 percent of families find stable housing after they've spent three months or longer in Interfaith homes, representatives said.

The Ferndale project is important because it's best to serve homeless families in a community where they have other services instead of, for example, providing shelter to a family in Bellingham and then busing their children to their schools elsewhere in the county, according to the Rev. Bobbi Virta, who is on the board of Interfaith Coalition.

"We're talking about the most vulnerable children and we want to get them in a stable place," said Virta, who is pastor for United Church of Ferndale.

Moceri Construction of Bellingham is helping with the remodel. Volunteers also are part of the effort.

Project funding comes from monetary and in-kind contributions from more than 500 people, congregations, businesses and foundations throughout the county.

Interfaith is about 90 percent of the way to its $500,000 fundraising goal, Virta said. The money will pay for project costs, pay off the mortgage for the Ferndale house that's being expanded into a triplex, and create a maintenance fund for all 11 homeless housing units.

"We're a grateful group of people who want to get this done so that we can get families into it ASAP," Virta said.

For more information and to donate, call 360-734-3983.

WATCH VIDEO FOR "OUR HOUSE" CAMPAIGN

Reach KIE RELYEA at kie.relyea@bellinghamherald.com or call 715-2234.

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