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First 10 residents take shelter at Winter Haven tent encampment behind City Hall

Winter Haven to shelter up to 40 homeless people through April

On Jan. 3, 2019, HomesNOW! opened Winter Haven, a temporary encampment for the homeless, in the employee parking lot behind Bellingham City Hall.
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On Jan. 3, 2019, HomesNOW! opened Winter Haven, a temporary encampment for the homeless, in the employee parking lot behind Bellingham City Hall.

Winter Haven, a temporary encampment for the homeless, opened last week in Bellingham City Hall’s employee parking lot.

The encampment, operated by HomesNOW!, is permitted to have 20 tents and shelter up to 40 people through April 2.

For HomesNOW! president Jim Peterson, the encampment is an important step for Bellingham’s homeless community, especially during the winter months.

“There’s no safe place, or legal place, for anybody to go except the Drop-In Center or the mission,” Peterson said.

As HomesNOW! is a nonprofit, Winter Haven runs entirely off of community donations. Because of this, Peterson makes a post on Winter Haven’s Facebook page every morning detailing supplies the camp needs.

Within a few hours, people have generally spoken up to bring everything from the list, Peterson said.

Ten residents had completed the application process and moved in by Monday.

The permit end date for the homeless encampment was updated Jan. 9.

Lacey Young is a visual journalist who interned at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, NASA’S Goddard Space Flight Center and Minnesota Public Radio. She’s a University of Montana graduate and life-long Washingtonian.

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