November 4, 2021 Dena Jensen
So here’s an email chain on which to reflect and see how we can break through this particular barrier to generate action.
I wrote to Whatcom County Health Department Human Services Supervisor Ann Beck back on October 18. She had mentioned to me, in an email from September 27, a conversation which her Environmental Health colleagues, City of Bellingham staff, and the Homeless Outreach Team Manager had had about “available access to restrooms and other ideas that can help address public health concerns.” (Restroom access and other sanitary provisions like hand washing stations are recommended by the CDC in the guidance for encampments they issued in March of 2020 and which still remains in place.) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/homeless-shelters/unsheltered-homelessness.html#facility-encampments
I’m including my Oct. 18 email, the check-in about that email I sent this morning, and Ms. Beck’s response, that arrived shortly after:
Monday, October 18, 2021, 05:30:28 PM PDT,
Dear Ms. Beck:
I hope you are doing well.
I wanted to check in on your comment in your September 27, 2021 email to me, saying that at that time you had recently met with COB staff and the HOT Team Manager to talk about available access to restrooms for encampments.
Can you please tell me if actions are now being taken to provide and maintain that access, along with providing other health measures, and access to water, that will help people in encampments avoid spreading COVID-19 and other illnesses, along with greatly improving their general well-being at their camp locations?
If such actions are currently being taken, can you let me know the extent to which these provisions are being made? (i.e. number of encampments served; types of health measures provided; intended length of time the measures will be in place; and any other related information you are able to provide).
Thank you very much and I look forward to your response.
Birch Bay, WA
Sent: Thursday, November 4, 2021 8:25 AM
To: Ann Beck <ABeck@co.whatcom.wa.us>
Subject: Checking in Re: Following up regarding your meeting and efforts with COB staff and the HOT Team Manager related to available access to restrooms for encampments
Dear Ms. Beck:
Good wishes to you for this latter half of the week.
I am sending along another follow-up email looking to get an answer to my questions I sent to you on October 18, 2021 in the email below. With the harsh weather we have been having and some higher COVID-19 hospitalization numbers – not [to] mention other illnesses and injuries more common during the cold-weather season – I know that increasing health and sanitation resources to those living in encampments is such an urgent and critical need. I look forward to your response.
Birch Bay, WA
From: Ann Beck <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Thursday, November 4, 2021, 09:01:23 AM PDT
Subject: RE: Checking in Re: Following up regarding your meeting and efforts with COB staff and the HOT Team Manager related to available access to restrooms for encampments
We continue to engage with potential partners who might have an interest in supporting winter shelters. We also meet regularly between City and County staff to talk about these concerns and plan appropriately.
Here is contact information for calling for critical safety and hygiene measures being provided by our government agencies for community members who are unsheltered in Whatcom County:
Ann Beck: email@example.com
Whatcom County Health Department
Whatcom County Council contact information is available at this link:
Whatcom County Executive:
Bellingham Mayor and Bellingham City Council:
Mayor Seth Fleetwood <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Daniel C. Hammill <email@example.com>;
Lisa A. Anderson <firstname.lastname@example.org>;
Gene R. Knutson <email@example.com>;
Pinky T. Vargas <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Seth Fleetwood (Mayor) – (360) 778-8100
Hannah Stone (1st Ward) – (360) 778-8211
Gene Knutson (2nd Ward) – (360) 733-1640
Daniel Hammill (3rd Ward) l – (360) 778-8213
Pinky Vargas (4th Ward) – (360) 778-8210
Lisa Anderson (5th Ward) – (360) 778-8217
Michael Lilliquist (6th Ward) – (360) 778-8212 and 360-920-2684
Hollie Huthman (At-Large) – (360) 778-8216