Downtown site to be used for drop-in homeless shelter

At a meeting on Tuesday, June 16th, the City of Bellingham City Council unanimously voted to move forward with plans to accept the lease and sublease conditions for the Public Market site on Cornwall Avenue for a drop-in homeless shelter. The facility will be used over the next three years, with an option for a fourth year. The Council also unanimously approved waiving building code requirements for the shelter during the ongoing pandemic. 

The City will sublease the site to the Lighthouse Mission, which will run the facility while a permanent homeless shelter is constructed. Funding for the 1.5M, 3-year agreement will come from the City of Bellingham and Whatcom County. Among other funds, the Bellingham City Council will utilize funding from Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The vote came over the objection of several area residents and downtown business owners, who noted the steep uphill climb local companies already face in light of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic restrictions. Those concerns were acknowledged, but none of the specific potential lease conditions suggested by business owners were incorporated during the vote.

The Whatcom Business Alliance Policy Center strongly encourages business owners and leaders to support our effort to have their voice heard. In the coming weeks and months local and state governments will likely introduce a variety of regulatory and legislative changes that could impact your ability to return to prosperity during these challenging economic times. You can email the City Council with your concerns at

Please contact Barbara Chase at the WBA for further information on how you can get involved, and how together we can give voice to the needs of our business community