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People, belongings at Bellingham homeless camp must move by Friday

Protesters near the tent encampment on the lawn of Bellingham City Hall. (Photo courtesy of City of Bellingham/Twitter)

A tent encampment on the lawn in front of Bellingham City Hall that started in mid-November, and later expanded to the north lawn of the Central Library, has been given notice that all people and belongings must be moved by 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29.

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The city has stated during the past month that this illegal encampment must end in January. In an update on the City of Bellingham’s website, officials ask for help encouraging campers to find shelter elsewhere, and say space is available at the Base Camp shelter and at its overflow facility.

“The City supports the operation of these shelter facilities as well as Homes Now tiny home villages,” the update states. “We are in the process of developing additional tiny home facilities with a qualified operator. We will continue to develop other options for low-barrier facilities to provide safe shelter for those in need, along with Whatcom County and the other partner organizations.”

It also asks those who have been dropping donations at city hall to “redirect your compassionate efforts.”

Bellingham City Hall and the Central Library have been closed this week “out of an abundance of caution for the safety of all,” including campers, volunteers, city employees, and members of the public.

Previously, the city had requested a 25-foot fire and safety area around the buildings, giving people several days to move their belongings, but which did not occur.

Protesters broke into city hall on Friday, forcing the mayor to be escorted out of the building for safety. Online, protesters said they were there to advocate for the homeless who are staying at the large encampment of about 100 tents. Posts in the Facebook group “BOP Mutual Aid” and the Instagram page “Whatcom Focused Youth Movement” called for people to gather. It’s not clear if those causing trouble were part of either group.

Find more updates about the tent encampment from the City of Bellingham online here.

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