The truth about our experience communicating intent.
Updated: Feb 2
We have been accused of not providing information to our neighbors. We worked to do just that in June and into July but withdrew when it became clear that information was being used against us and our words were being twisted to mean something else or simply disbelieved.
We have done and continue to attempt to meet the neighbors’ concerns but, in a few cases, they change so rapidly that we have come to see that the goal is simply to get us to quit. Housing men is less palatable than women, so we agreed that we would house women. We were then told that "I don’t want any of those people living next door to me". It was clear that even though the Department of Corrections Application was one of a half dozen started in June, it was unacceptable as an option, and it was withdrawn. We then read that our neighbors needed to stay "vigilant, for there are many other things that [we] can still do with the houses". Through these and other remarks, it became clear that there was no earnest discussion to be had with some neighbors. Recently, we have reluctantly made it clear that we would like to house women who have fled domestic violence, the revealing of which is obviously counter-productive to protecting the group we intend to serve, and yet to qualm neighbor concerns we said so plainly, naming the organization that would like to work with us. In response to that, we have now read that it is my wife and I running the homes which is categorically unacceptable. We have made good faith attempts to address concerns but some on the other side of the table simply move the bar to ensure that we cannot satisfy them.
The above does not describe all neighbors though. We have had a growing number of fruitful and productive conversations with neighbors and community members. We understand that there are legitimate questions that people would like answered. We will continue to attempt to provide those answers. There has been some difficulty in doing so as the bar set by some in the neighborhood moves regularly, the city got involved with its ordinance, and organizations that would refer to us have undergone personnel changes at their end. There are a lot of moving parts, making it difficult to provide answers at any one time. In the meantime, our home has sat vacant - the only responsible, though painful thing to do.
We set out with a clear initial goal – to serve as the last step for someone who has struggled with addiction before total independence. As such, our homes would have little impact on neighbors and our community. We discovered broader needs that could also be served, and we explored them. When the community weighed in with their feedback, we attempted to find solutions that would meet those concerns while pursuing our broader mission.
There are a group of people who have committed to our demise regardless of what we attempt. Some of their activities have sought to denigrate our characters and create false narratives. While we may see things differently, living in a civil society requires grace. We would love to work in partnership with churches, community groups, and individuals who are interested in helping as we serve others. Please contact us.
I have not lost faith in this town and personally know many good, solid people who understand that this is not a Bellingham problem we are attempting to address and that it already lives on our block, in our neighborhood and too often has touched us personally in some way.
"All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. “
- Edmond Burke, English Statesman