Submitted by: Lydia Place

On October 10th, Lydia Place, a local non-profit provider of housing and supportive services for families and individuals experiencing homelessness, invites the community to attend the 30th Anniversary Celebration and community Cider Press at the Lydia Place Gladstone Street Gardens. Attendees will enjoy a live cider press demonstration, children’s activities, music, property tours, and complimentary refreshments. Visit for additional details, event updates, and to RSVP to this FREE community event.

Photo courtesy: Lydia Place

On October 26th 1989, a large blue single family home in Bellingham’s Puget neighborhood opened its door and heart to seven local families experiencing hardship and homelessness, quickly becoming a beacon of hope and second chances for women and their children in Whatcom County. Lydia Place, the namesake of the non-profit and its housing facility, was the physical manifestation of a handful of passionate community members, a mortgaged home, and concentrated public support for those in need of shelter and services. Now 92 years young, Shirley Murray, a Lydia Place founding “mother” of the organization recalled, “This (Lydia Place) provided me and others with a way to be involved and make a difference.” Thirty years and over 1,200 families later, the social service agency has become a hallmark for innovation, partnership, and growth; and has become a key community partner in the disruption of homelessness for individuals and families in Whatcom County.

As housing vacancy rates have continued to hover at or below 1%, Lydia Place has increased capacity to meet the growing and changing needs of their neighbors in need. Over the past three decades Lydia Place has grown from providing housing and support to just over 12 families a year, to today serving roughly 150 families of all sizes at a time through their 4 housing programs.  Additionally, the agency has added parent education, group connections and workshops, in-home mental health and pre-natal services. Through local support, grants, city and county funding and generous partners like United Way, Ben Kinney Companies, and Satterburg Foundation, Lydia Place additionally purchased two flexible properties allowing the agency to welcome home some of the community’s most vulnerable and chronically impacted individuals. Through calculated growth and strategic partnerships, Lydia Place has moved from crisis response to critically thinking about addressing poverty and equity issues. Lydia Place works hand in hand with other local and regional partners to provide families and individuals with critical services and connections necessary in disrupting the cycle of homelessness.

Photo courtesy: Lydia Place

Lydia Place Executive Director Emily O’Connor shared, “We launched our parenting program in 2015, knowing that housing is the first step, and it’s the best first step, but it is the first step. We just keep

adding in those layers of support that we know make a difference for our neighbors in exiting homelessness. It is so incredibly important that we open our eyes, and open our hearts to thinking differently about the issue of homelessness, because these are our community members, and they need our help and our support. We want to be working on the things that are enriching people’s lives, and I hope that is the work 30 years from now. That my children, and your children, and all the other children in this community do not grow up to continue needing to provide these types of services, because we’ve created a world, and a community, where people have enough.”

Lydia Place is a nonprofit, community-based agency based in Bellingham, WA, serving individuals and families experiencing homelessness in Whatcom and greater Whatcom County since 1989. Through partnerships with private and public entities, Lydia Place provides services and housing placements to over 150 households at any given time through its diverse housing and support programs. The mission of Lydia Place is to disrupt the cycle of homelessness and promote sustained independence for current and future generations. Learn more at

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