Road project paves path to homeless housing in Whatcom County

What do you do with a perfectly good house that's about to be torn down? In this case, you save it and use it to house the homeless.

Homeless families in Ferndale will soon have a place to stay thanks to a house slated for destruction.

Volunteers from the Interfaith Coalition of Whatcom County are rehabbing an old house so the homeless can soon move in.

It's a perfectly good house, but at 110 years old, it's a bit of a fixer-upper. That designation seems fitting considering the house will now be used to help repair broken families.

"Families are the invisible homeless, because we don't often see them on our streets," said the coalition's Janie Pemble.

School district statistics show one out of every 26 students in Whatcom County doesn't have a stable place to sleep on any given night.

"There are many in tents. They're living in cars. I've heard school bus drivers say they'll pull up to the woods and kids running out of the woods," said Pemble.

The City of Ferndale bought the house last year expecting to tear it down to make way for a roundabout project at Washington Street and Vista Drive. That project, however, likely won't start for at least 10 more years – 10 years the house could be somebody's home.

So, the city partnered with the coalition, which is fixing the house up and renting it from the city at $1 per month for the foreseeable future.

"You can brighten their future one family at a time so they can go on and make something of themselves," said volunteer Linda Anderson. "That's the important part."

The house is specifically for pre-screened homeless families. They'll pay a low, sliding-scale rent for six to 12 months while they get help finding a permanent place to stay.

Over the next decade, some 20 families could transition through the house.

The first is expected to move in in about two weeks.

"We would love to see this spread through our community and even in other cities," said Pemble. "It just makes sense."

© 2017 KING-TV


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