There will be an opportunity at Monday’s May 24, 2021, 7:00 p.m. Bellingham City Council meeting for people to comment during a Public Hearing on an issue that can impact individuals who are homeless, along with anyone spending a day in a Bellingham park that can be, in some way, assessed to be “camping.”
May 15, 2021 by Dena Jensen, with significant contributions from Sandy Robson
[Author’s note: In regard to the headline, officials might have hoped to silence a few more voices, as well, but I will stick to the public records that Sandy Robson recently received from Whatcom County to let readers decide. For context, I want folks to know that I have been following Whatcom County’s Homeless Strategies Workgroup meetings since the summer of 2019 and that I am familiar with the person who was the target of County officials’ silencing efforts.
I have interacted through Facebook with Markis Stidham – Markis Dee is his profile name – over the past few years regarding civil rights and social justice issues. Additionally, Stidham met with Riveters Collective Justice System Committee, of which I am a member, on a couple of occasions. I remember seeing him twice in public, in years past, at Dignity Vigils in front of Bellingham City Hall, and shook his hand once, although I don’t think he knew who I was at the time. Stidham read a public comment of mine at a Homeless Strategies Workgroup meeting on August 23, 2019.]
In public records obtained from the City of Bellingham, emails revealed that leading up to the 2020/2021 winter season, City Planning and Development staff told emergency winter shelter providers, with whom they had partnered the previous cold weather season, that the City would not be operating or funding such operations in the coming season.
Bellingham, Washington — The youth of Bellingham and its surrounding area, led by Sunrise Movement Bellingham’s middle and high school team, are demanding that President Biden and Governor Inslee declare Climate Emergencies on both the state and federal levels. This declaration would acknowledge the need for action surrounding the Climate Crisis, and also hold these powerful people accountable for taking definitive steps to reverse the effects of climate change.
Below is my email, sent today, to Whatcom County’s Homeless Strategies Workgroup:
Subject: Regarding the presentation related to severe weather shelters at the April 16, 2021 Homeless Strategies Workgroup meeting
Dear Homeless Strategies Workgroup:
Near the end of the the April 16, 2021 Homeless Strategies Workgroup meeting discussion, a motion was approved by the workgroup to recommend to Whatcom County Council a recommendation from Health Department/County staff. This guidance was a short term action step to establish a data collection process to assist in ongoing analysis and planning.
Keep writing your elected officials and working on sheltering solutions.
There was another encampment sweep in Bellingham at Sunset Pond Park this morning. More people without shelter displaced. Meanwhile, it’s possible one of our Port of Bellingham Commissioners is working on hiring a security guard because they don’t think the police are moving unsheltered people on to shelter and services (which currently don’t exist for many).