Whatcom County Council Members need more education related to homeless services / Noisy Waters Northwest

Click the still frame of the recorded 8/02/22 virtual meeting of Whatcom County Council meeting as the Health Board to access that recording on the Whatcom County website

August 2, 2022 Dena Jensen

Our Whatcom County Council Members continue to need additional education and oversight on their positions regarding homeless services in Whatcom County. You can contact your Council Members with your input regarding the following information with contact information provided at the bottom of this post.

Whatcom County member Kathy Kershner spoke today at the meeting of the County Council in their capacity as the Whatcom County Health Board for August 2, 2022. The Public Health Advisory Board (PHAB) was also participating in the meeting. Whatcom County Health Director Erika Lautenbach was present, as well. Here is a link to the recording of that meeting: http://whatcom.granicus.com/player/clip/780?view_id=1&redirect=true

Council Member Kershner requested a presentation from the Whatcom County Health Department on various topics, and requested a discussion regarding low barrier and no barrier housing. While she correctly identified a need for additional services, she mistakenly indicated that a lack of them was somehow the fault of the low barrier housing model:

Council Member Kershner’s request for a discussion on low and no barrier housing occurred at around 00:14:26 in the recording of the meeting.

Council Member Kershner:

“And then specifically around housing folks with low barrier or no barrier, I think that I’d like to have a discussion on the efficacy of that model, how it is not working in our community right now and what we’re gonna do to move away from, you know, allowing things like 22 North to continue to occur in our downtown core, while at the same time, helping people that need our help – and hopefully by providing more services that help them with substance abuse / mental health, as well as holding people accountable for their actions. I think that we’ve moved too far on the spectrum away from that and we just seem to be devolving.”

Health Department Director Lautenbach responded to Council Member Kershner’s request with the following remarks:

“Council Member Kershner, and Council Members, just for your awareness, on the ninth, which is next Tuesday, you’ll receive a full briefing in Committee of the Whole from Opportunity Council and Northwest Youth Services on what’s going on with 22 North. They’re also sending weekly updates to you, and we’re happy to have conversation. Just so you know, we don’t have any no-barrier shelters or housing in Whatcom County. But I think that can be a good opportunity next week to have a fuller conversation with the providers of those services.”

You can contact Whatcom County Council Members at the following addresses and phone numbers:

Entire Council (for the record) <council@co.whatcom.wa.us>;

Barry Buchanan <bbuchana@co.whatcom.wa.us>; 

Todd Donovan <tdonovan@co.whatcom.wa.us>; 

Carol Frazey <cfrazey@co.whatcom.wa.us>; 

Kaylee Galloway <kgallowa@co.whatcom.wa.us>

Tyler Byrd <tbyrd@co.whatcom.wa.us>; 

Kathy Kershner <kkershne@co.whatcom.wa.us>; 

Ben Elenbaas <belenbaa@co.whatcom.wa.us>

Kaylee Galloway 

Phone: 360-489-9192 and 360-778-5023

Todd Donovan  

Phone: 360-483-8474 

Tyler Byrd

Phone: 360-778-5021

Kathy Kershner  

Phone: 360-220-7535 

Ben Elenbaas

Phone: 360-778-5025

Barry Buchanan  

Phone: 360-224-4330

Carol Frazey

Phone: 360-778-5024