Submitted by: Lydia Place

Lydia Place, a Bellingham homeless housing and supportive service non-profit agency, has launched a family housing initiative to house every homeless family with children in the next twelve months. Sparked by a power team of private and public entities, including Landmark Real Estate Management, the City of Bellingham, Random Acts and private landlords Misha Collins and Vicki Vantoch, whom each pledged resources and support ranging from housing units, funding for housing case management and supportive services and rental subsidy matching funds. This final component, rental subsidy, is critical to the program’s success and one that involves a community matching challenge.

At present, Random Acts, a non-profit founded by Collins, an actor for CW’s Supernatural, to deliver and inspire acts of kindness around the globe, has raised $100,000 through a holiday campaign titled #IWishForThis. The #IWishForThis campaign was inspired by Collins and Vantoch’s four-year old daughter who, when asked what she wished for after blowing a dandelion into the air one summer day, responded, “I wish for…this!” referring to the moment and dandelion in hand. Inspired by their child’s kindness and simple wish, Collins, Vantoch and Random Acts launched the international fundraiser utilizing a t-shirt embellished with a seeding dandelion, to raise funds and awareness of the issue of homelessness, hoping to inspire action and awareness across the globe.

Lydia Place is now turning to the local Whatcom County community to join those who have supported the campaign from countries as far as Budapest, Australia and Japan, to step up to an additional challenge from Random Acts, Collins and Vantoch to match $50,000 of local financial support. These matched funds will provide an additional year of support and help to provide case management, parenting support and mental health services for those families recently housed, essential pieces that are critical to disrupting the cycle of homelessness for children and their families.

Collins expressed, “I hope this will be an opportunity not only for the families to find stability and community, but a chance for Bellingham to become the example that other cities point to in finding a community solution to the problem of homelessness and affordable housing. I hope this match will result in happy home lives for those moms and their kids and that more property owners will join in this mission.”

For Lydia Place, the #IWishForThis campaign and initiative all are essential to their mission to disrupt the cycle of homelessness and promote sustained independence for current and future generations. Lydia Place has been a community resource for Whatcom County families and individuals since 1989. Through partnerships with private and public entities, Lydia Place serves 150 households at any given time through its diverse housing and support programs.

Since launching the partnership in late summer of 2017, Lydia Place and Landmark have housed 12 local homeless families. Locally owned and operated since 1993, Landmark Real Estate Management, LLC, specializes in commercial and residential property management and maintenance.  Landmark is one of the county’s largest property management companies, with over 1,300 residential units. For co-owner Troy Muljat, the partnership with Lydia Place hit a chord with him personally, making finding a solution to the rising homeless issue one of great importance. Muljat shared “I personally feel passionate about helping find solutions to the homeless issues surrounding our community. I feel strongly that everyone deserves a place to live. It is an honor to serve our community and we are excited to see how we can grow and challenge others to help end homelessness.”

Homelessness is also a very personal issue for Misha Collins, who experienced homelessness and poverty throughout his childhood. Collins shared, “I lived in a tent with my mom in New England when I was a kid, and the kindness of strangers and public assistance brought us out of that situation, so I know first-hand how important a roof over your head can be.” These experiences inspired Collins to launch his non-profit Random Acts, a non-profit organization that encourages people of all ages to perform their own acts of kindness wherever, and whenever possible. Leading by example, Collins inspires action and kindness worldwide through campaigns like #IWishForThis.

The #IWishForThis matching campaign will take place throughout the month of January, one of the hardest months for families living in poverty and homelessness. By making monthly contributions of $10, $20, $50 and above, Lydia Place is hoping to create a vast pool of local supporters that are invested in the work and mission of the organization and initiative, and ensure the long-term success of families exiting homelessness. Lydia Place Executive Director, Emily O’Connor shared, “We [Lydia Place] have no doubt that our compassionate community will rise to meet not only this matching challenge but the broader challenge of homelessness. As Misha reminds us, if each of us do our small part, such as making a monthly gift to Lydia Place to help a family keep a roof over their heads, we will achieve our vision of a community without homelessness. Accomplishing that would change the fabric and landscape of our community for generations to come.”

To make a gift to the #IWishForThis matching campaign and become a monthly partner in ending homelessness in Bellingham, log on to lydiaplace.org this January and select the donate tab, or contact the organization at info@lydiaplace.org.

“We are so grateful to have partners like Misha, Vicki, Troy and the City of Bellingham in our community, and with support from individuals throughout Whatcom County, we are so excited to see just how far we can take this opportunity.” -Emily O’Connor

Get Involved

To learn more about Lydia Place, and become a monthly family initiative member visit lydiaplace.org/donate.

To become a landlord participant and designate a unit of housing to the program email ashleyt@lydiaplace.org.

To find out more about Random Acts visit https://www.randomacts.org.

In Need of Services?

Please contact the Opportunity Council’s Whatcom Homeless Service Center. Lydia Place is a partner in our community’s coordinated entry system, and obtains referrals for services through this single point of entry. Contact them through this website.

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