Another 80 beds will be available for men without a place to stay starting Monday, Oct. 17, when The Lighthouse Mission opens a new 24/7 emergency shelter.
The Mission will convert its daytime Drop-In Center at 1013 W. Holly St., which usually was open weekday afternoons, into emergency housing.
Three square meals will be served each day.
Unlike some other services offered by the Mission, the emergency housing will have fewer requirements for those who access services, which may include allowing people who may be under the influence so long as they follow basic behavioral expectations.
An easy-access shelter is Bellingham’s most pressing need when it comes to our most vulnerable populations.
Hans Erchinger-Davis, executive director of The Lighthouse Mission
People who have pets may be accommodated under the new service, and similar to most Mission programs there are no religious requirements to use the services.
“An easy-access shelter is Bellingham’s most pressing need when it comes to our most vulnerable populations,” Lighthouse Executive Director Hans Erchinger-Davis said in a written statement. “This will be the first step for many people who are chronically homeless. The goal is to get them into the Mission’s continuum of care and out of homelessness.”
By opening the Drop-In space for men, the Mission will be able to convert a 40-bed chapel space it used for similar emergency housing for both men and women, into a space only open to women. So with the new center open, there will be a total of 120 emergency beds.
Running the emergency shelter as cold weather is set to hit is only a temporary fix for a long-term issue, Erchinger-Davis pointed out.
The Mission and the city of Bellingham are trying to find a permanent solution in a better location so the Drop-In center will serve as a stop-gap measure until that can happen.
Operating the new 24/7 shelter is estimated to cost about $200,000 a year.
Operating the emergency shelter also doesn’t come cheap.
With added staff, and round-the-clock service, the cost to run the new shelter is estimated at about $200,000 a year.
The Lighthouse Mission is a nonprofit and relies on donations from the community to keep its doors open.
“Whatcom County has been generous in supporting the Mission and I hope that continues as we take a step of faith to meet this serious need,” Erchinger-Davis said in the written statement. “Donations to Lighthouse Mission Ministries provide ‘wrap-around’ services that cultivate healing and total life transformation.”
Since 1923, the Mission has helped people who are homeless. Staff serves more than 300 hot meals each day, and shelters about 150 men, women and children each day, not including the new beds that will open up.
Information can be found at TheLighthouseMission.org.