Our community members in crisis must not be treated as expendable / Letter to the Homeless Strategies Workgroup

Click the graphic to access Whatcom County’s Homeless Strategies Workgroup meeting materials webpage

March 4, 2021 Dena Jensen

Dear Homeless Strategies Workgroup:

I really appreciate the questions and points raised in recent letters sent in by <a href="To: Cathy Halka <chalka@co.whatcom.wa.us>; Barry Buchanan <bbuchana@co.whatcom.wa.us>; mayorsoffice@cob.org <mayorsoffice@cob.org>; Michael W. Lilliquist <mlilliquist@cob.org>; Gene R. Knutson <gknutson@cob.org>; Mike Hilley <mhilley@co.whatcom.wa.us>; Ann Beck <abeck@co.whatcom.wa.us>; Anne Deacon <adeacon@co.whatcom.wa.us>; Michael Shepard <michaels@portofbellingham.com>; michael_parker@whatcomhsc.org <michael_parker@whatcomhsc.org>; Rud Browne <rbrowne@co.whatcom.wa.us> Cc: Hannah E. Stone <hestone@cob.org>; Hollie A. Huthman <hahuthman@cob.org>; Daniel C. Hammill <dchammill@cob.org>; Pinky T. Vargas <ptmvargas@cob.org>; Satpal Sidhu <ssidhu@co.whatcom.wa.us>; Todd Donovan <tdonovan@co.whatcom.wa.us>; Tyler Byrd <tbyrd@co.whatcom.wa.us>; Carol Frazey <cfrazey@co.whatcom.wa.us>; Ben Elenbaas <belenbaa@co.whatcom.wa.us>; Kathy Kershner <kkershne@co.whatcom.wa.us>; Health Carmen Gilmore and Arrissia Owen Turner, and I hope the workgroup will use these to help cement focus and progress on primary goals. 

I also call for one of the primary goals of this workgroup being that of addressing the needs of unsheltered community members in crisis, and feel it will become easier and quicker to make progress on this goal by staying grounded in an approach that views people falling through the cracks of existing solutions – or lack of them – as unacceptable. 

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The goal is to marginalize no one: email to Whatcom and Bellingham leaders / Noisy Waters Northwest

Click the graphic to access material available on the City of Bellingham website presenting the City’s view of events surrounding the 1/28/21 sweep of Camp 210

February 19, 2021 Dena Jensen

Here is an email I sent this morning:

Subject: The goal is to marginalize no one

Dear Mayor Fleetwood, Bellingham City Council, Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department, and Homeless Strategies Workgroup Members:

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Solutions needed to help heal the community: Homeless Strategies Workgroup meeting 2/19/21

Click the graphic image of the 2/19/21 Homeless Strategies Workgroup agenda to access the agenda and other meeting materials on the Whatcom County website.

February 18, 2021 Dena Jensen

Whatcom County Homeless Strategies Workgroup meets tomorrow, Friday, February 19, 2021, 1:30-3:00 p.m. Here is the Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/91936129280?pwd=QmZYaVdFMm1SZW5hcmpBdHcyVHkxQT09

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Thoughts on the Camp 210 Sweep / Commentary by Kai Rapaport

Police presence at Camp 210 Sweep. Photo Credit: Kai Rapaport

February 5, 2021 Kai Rapaport

[Author’s Note: I am not a representative of Camp 210, but a concerned community member and volunteer; mistakes are my own]

Dear Bellingham,

This message is a plea to our Mayor Fleetwood to stop the sweep of our houseless neighbors at Camp 210, in their new location by Puget and Fraser near Civic field Friday at 4pm. This article is also an invitation to the community to support our houseless neighbors in voicing their concerns about this sweep. 

I understand this message is long so I can summarize it now:

Please contact your Mayor, principally; your health department; the parks department; your City Councilmembers; and encourage your organizations to denounce this sweep. Sweeps do not solve houselessness, they only move our houseless neighbors.

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RE winter emergency sheltering efforts in Whatcom County prior to the 2020 cold weather season

Click the graphic to access a recording of YouTube video of the March 30, 2020 Whatcom County Homeless Strategies Workgroup meeting. This was the first virtual meeting of the workgroup after the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States

The City of Bellingham and Whatcom County Government have been increasingly focused since the cold weather season has hit, on putting out information about their housing and sheltering efforts. There is no doubt that they have been making efforts to create low income housing and to sustain and enhance some sheltering solutions. But a significant challenge being faced right now by our community is a failure of our government agencies to respond effectively to hostile weather emergency sheltering needs, especially during a pandemic. 

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Whatcom County Council continues discussion of racism as a public health crisis / Noisy Waters Northwest

Click the graphic to access video of the October 27, 2020 Whatcom County Council Meeting. The discussion of racism as a public health crisis begins at about 04:14:30 on the video

November 1, 2020 Dena Jensen

For those who didn’t get to listen to the discussion of the resolution Affirming Racism is a Public Health Crisis at the October 27, 2020 Whatcom County Council meeting, here is a little information on that.

First, here are some details I am aware of because my partner, Sandy Robson, called Whatcom County staff to find out why notice of discussion of the resolution seemed to not be available on the County website.

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A call to provide winter shelters in Bellingham and Whatcom County / Letter to Bellingham City Council and Whatcom County Council

October 30, 2020 Dena Jensen

Sent: Thursday, October 29, 2020, 07:39:21 PM PDT

Subject: A call to provide winter shelters

Dear Bellingham City Council and Whatcom County Council:

I am calling on you to take immediate action to address the absence of ample winter shelters to keep individuals being left with no other option than to sleep outside overnight during conditions that can cause hypothermia, and in the middle of a pandemic. According to an October 16, 2020 King5 report, “Washington State remains on track for a cooler, wetter winter.” https://www.king5.com/article/weather/weather-blog/winter-outlook-wetter-colder-washington-state/281-8a300d02-79fb-48b3-837f-2303c49133af 

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Contact Whatcom County Council to Affirm Racism is a Public Health Crisis

Screenshot of a Power Point presentation slide shown at the 10:45 a.m., 10/06/20, Whatcom County Council meeting as the Health Board meeting

October 25, 2020 Dena Jensen

‼️Heads up‼️ regarding a resolution “Affirming Racism is a Public Health Crisis.”

This is a quick call to action to contact the Whatcom County Council to support the Whatcom County Public Health Advisory Board resolution. The County Council was supposed to discuss/vote on the resolution Affirming Racism is a Public Health Crisis in one of their committees by October 27, which is why we all should contact them ASAP.

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PUD Commissioner McClure’s past actions aided the quest for a coal terminal at Cherry Point

Still frame from a video of the September 23, 2020, virtual candidate forum for Whatcom County Public Utility District No. 1 that includes images of (top left) forum moderator Tanya Baumgart, (bottom left) PUD incumbent candidate for commissioner, Jeffrey McClure, and (bottom right) PUD commissioner candidate Christine Grant. Click the graphic to access the video

September 2, 2020 Sandy Robson

Back in 2010, Jeffrey McClure, who is currently an incumbent candidate for commissioner for Whatcom County Public Utility District No. 1, signed onto a June 15, 2010, letter to then-Department of Natural Resources Public Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark, urging him to remove what the letter described as “inherent conflicts” in the Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ draft of its Cherry Point Environmental Aquatic Reserve Management Plan

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Fall, wind, and rain are here; legal homeless camping or emergency shelters aren’t

Click the graphic of the agenda for the 9/25/2020 Homeless Strategies Workgroup (HSW) meeting to access the HSW meeting materials page on the Whatcom County website

September 24, 2020 Dena Jensen

Fall, wind, and rain are here. Late-November, (which is the last time severe weather shelters were offered) is two months away. At Friday’s 1:30 p.m. Homeless Strategies Workgroup meeting, 5 minutes are scheduled for discussing Winter Shelter (temporary and emergency) and 5 minutes are scheduled for discussing Encampment clean-up/sweeps. How are these critical topics not a priority topic when people who are unsheltered are in positions -right now – to have their tarps and tents either blow away or be flooded, and freezing temps are weeks away? 

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