The Mayor in Cascadia Weekly:
“…. the Bellingham City Council and I have asked Governor Jay Inslee and state policymakers to address this state of emergency around the issue of homelessness.”
Translation: We are going to try to get some money out of Olympia to pay for this. This homelessness stuff is really costly!
I remain confused on the Mayor’s claim that the city 10 year plan to address homelessness has had success when the overall homelessness rate has increased by 18%.
And it is true that in 2013, the mayor convened the Community Solutions Workgroup on Downtown Health and Safety, but much of the focus was on the police and downtown merchants. Anyone remember the anti-laying/loitering proposal that caused an uproar? And while some of the solutions were good, many were awful. Remember the attempts to turn minor infractions into a higher criminal charge? Remember this one?:
“The workgroup identified the programming of Maritime Heritage Park as a top solution and as a short-term priority.The City of Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department has released a report and list of recommendations for the programming of Maritime Heritage Park. The recommendations for
programming include designating funding for city staff to oversee the project, designating funding for support of collaborative programs, streamlining event approval, and developing a program to support local performers. In addition to recommendations for programing, the report also provide recommendations for improving the park infrastructure, adding enforcement and increasing social service presence. The infrastructure recommendations include leasing the park building for commercial use, installing a playground, enhancing lighting, and installing technology such a security cameras and call boxes”
The end result was devastation to the riparian areas and habitat corridor along a functional and important estuary, including pulling up plants that had been part of a restoration project. And a primary purpose of this was to run the homeless out of the park by ensuring they had no place to stay in the park.
So yes, Bellingham has a homelessness problem, but no, it is not a completely innocent victim in this regard.