Girard Street – Opportunity Council Houses

1209 and 1211 Girard Street: Renovating and activating two homes that have been vacant for a decade

Through a unique partnership between Opportunity Council, Lifeline Connections, Whatcom County, the City of Bellingham, and others, two vacant residences will be renovated to offer new, affordable homes, enriched with services and supports, for people in our community.

Opportunity Council Mission Statement: Opportunity Council helps people improve their lives through education, support, and direct assistance while advocating for just and equitable communities.

Purpose of the Project: Opportunity Council will rehabilitate the two homes to create much-needed housing to support people who are committed to their recovery and are participants in Whatcom County and Bellingham therapeutic courts. Lifeline Connections will lease the homes, manage support services for residents, and will provide staff onsite twenty-four hours per day.

A community priority: The Recovery House fills high priority needs in response to our community’s expressed goals: prevent incarceration, reduce homelessness, help individuals struggling with opioid addiction.

The Whatcom County Health Department completed extensive behavioral health facility needs assessments, looking at current gaps in service and high readmission rates to Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health inpatient treatment for individuals with co-occurring disorders.

Every assessment showed the need and community support for a Recovery House. The lack of local, evidence-based residential services is a factor in unsuccessful treatment outcomes here and throughout the North Sound region.

A Recovery House located in Whatcom County is a critical component of an effective continuum of care. As the property owner, developer, and property manager, Opportunity Council intends to rehabilitate the properties at 1209 and 1211 Girard Street for the purpose of creating the Recovery House project.

The project breathes new life into the properties one block south of Broadway and Meridian, formerly the site of a recovery house and detox program when it was owned by PeaceHealth. Vacant for over ten years, the two buildings will be rehabilitated to WA Department of Health standards for a Level 4 Recovery Residence (as specified by the National Alliance for Recovery Residences) that will be home to up to 16 residents for an average stay of six months.

This type of program provides peer-supported services plus life skills and clinical programming by a licensed treatment provider. This level of care includes a high degree of daily structure and 24/7 staffing. In addition, the program includes mental health services onsite provided by mental health professionals on staff.

This project adds a significant, missing component to our local continuum of care. The emphasis of this level of care is equipping participants for the next phase of recovery, which could be another residential level of care, or independent living and employment.

This project was inspired by recommendations from Whatcom County’s Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Taskforce, the Drug Court program staff, and Superior Court Judge Montoya-Lewis, who approached Opportunity Council seeking solutions to the extreme housing stability challenges of Drug Court participants.

For additional information about this future housing, please contact Paul Schissler at or (360) 201-8900