Meeting about Freeland housing project set for Feb. 27

An upcoming community meeting in Freeland will address the future of the Harbor Inn.

An upcoming community meeting in Freeland will address the future of the Harbor Inn, which became a hot topic last year when Island County commissioners voted to fund a project that turns the motel into a shelter.

The Low Income Housing Institute, or LIHI, purchased the Harbor Inn in 2022 with the intention of providing short-term housing to those in danger of becoming homeless. Representatives from LIHI will hold a meeting from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 27 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland to provide more details on the project.

LIHI plans to open the shelter as soon as this spring. Island County Human Services Director Lynda Austin confirmed that as of now, no one is living at the Harbor Inn.

The short-term stay housing at Harbor Inn includes 20 fully furnished units and an office for case management, which will be provided to residents to help them obtain permanent housing, employment, IDs, health care and other services. Residents must abide by a code of conduct, which includes provisions about no drugs or alcohol within public spaces, no violent or threatening behaviors, safety and cleanliness standards and requirements to work with case managers.

Singles, couples and people with pets living on South Whidbey, or in Island County as a whole, are eligible to stay at the short-term housing.

At the time of its discussion at the county level, many people stood in opposition to the LIHI project, citing worries about increased crime from the residents. It even became the subject of a lawsuit, which was later dismissed.