October 13, 2018 Dena Jensen
In this video Jim Peterson of HomesNOW! Not Later gives an update on a recent meeting Jim went to with Bellingham Planning Director Rick Sepler, Bellingham Police Department Chief Doll, and (I believe) COB Finance Director Brian Henshaw. It’s great to listen to, if you have the time, because you get a feel for how frustrating it is to just be granted permission to move forward with work that really, we would think our government officials would be leaping to help facilitate.
I loved that Jim got a phone call in the middle of the video he felt compelled to answer and was able to relay the good news after he hung up that the Community Food Co-op had notified him that HomesNOW! would be the beneficiary of one of the Co-op’s fundraising days for non-profits. 🙂
Jim has been taking on a slightly reduced role with HomesNOW! but still is very involved in many activities. He went to the meeting at the City feeling like he was being called into the principals office he said, and Jim reported that those officials did end up chastising him on a number of issues, like:
1. who HomesNOW was going to first (as in going the City Council first about some issues that they should have supposedly gone first to the planning department about),
2. the fact that Jim and others at HomesNOW! continue to say that the City does homeless camp sweeps when the City wants to say they do camp clean ups,
3. That HomesNOW needs to write down how they will be in control of a tent encampment if the City grants them a permit for one,
4. the City was not happy that HomesNOW!/Jim was “threatening” to have another homeless camp out at City Hall this December if people who are homeless do not have legal places to camp this winter.
Most of these criticisms seemed unfounded.
1. Why can’t an organization go to the City Council – our elected representatives – to communicate with them first, even if Council Members then point them to the planning department? It just gives Council a chance to be clued in on what’s going on.
2. Jim says he will continue to call the trashing of homeless camp residents’ belongings and kicking out of camp residents from their camp “sweeps”, as long as that is what continues to be done. City staff maintains they only do the “clean-ups” upon complaint, but people do complain and the City comes out and moves people on when there are not proper/acceptable options for them to have shelter elsewhere.
3. HomesNOW has been writing down rules about how their proposed homeless camps will be run to ensure the safety of residents and the surrounding community. This information has been submitted to the City. (Jim wonders if the City has been reading any of the material that they have been submitting to them.)
4. Jim told those in the meeting that he did not “threaten” a camp out at City Hall if unhoused people did not have legal places to camp this winter, he had “promised” to have a camp out at City Hall if that were the case.
Meanwhile, as always Jim and all the HomesNOW! volunteers continue to move forward and are working to provide the City and County with documents and infomation they seem to need to allow HomesNOW! to do the big job of providing homes for people without them, that the City, itself, has not yet been able to provide.