How can we be confident we won’t just build another Whatcom County Jail? / Letter to the Justice Project Stakeholder Advisory Committee

May 11, 2022 Dena Jensen

Next week, on Monday, May 16, 2022, City of Bellingham is hosting their town hall meeting on Public Safety. Here is the link to attend that town hall: https://cob.org/event/cctownhall-05162022

In advance of that forum the Bellingham City Council received some presentations yesterday from the Whatcom County Prosecutor and from Bellingham Police Department’s Deputy Chief related to crime. 

Based on material I heard in those presentations I sent the email below to the Whatcom County Justice Project’s Stakeholder Advisory Committee. This is the email address people can use to contact them: SAC@co.whatcom.wa.us

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Policies within Whatcom County that contribute to homelessness / Letter to County Executive Satpal Sidhu and Mayor Seth Fleetwood

Screen shot of an info-graphic of pathways into homelessness that is displayed on the Whatcom County and City of Bellingham website, Whatcom Pathways Home. Click the image to access it on the website.

May 9, 2022 Dena Jensen

At a recent Bellingham City Club event, Whatcom County Executive Satpal Sidhu asserted that our local county and city policies do not cause homelessness. Last night I wrote to highlight some of the local policies that came to my mind that seem to be obvious contributors to homelessness and to continue to prompt the Executive and Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood, who also appeared at the event, to take action to address those policies.

Dear County Executive Sidhu and Mayor Fleetwood:

I recently was able to watch Bellingham City Club’s event, “April 27, 2022: The Midpoint with Satpal Sidhu and Seth Fleetwood.”

I wanted to point out a few things regarding some of your comments about homelessness in Whatcom County and the City of Bellingham.

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Weeks, and weeks, and weeks of parking and sheltering predicaments / Letter to Bellingham and Whatcom County officials

Screenshot of Bellingham Police Department Lt. Claudia Murphy’s 12-30-21 body cam still frame showing a road and parked vehicles covered with snow, blue sky overhead, sun low toward the horizon, and the silhouettes of a person in a hat with their dog

April 10, 2022 Dena Jensen

Sent: Sunday, April 10, 2022, 06:06:37 PM PDT

Dear Bellingham City Council, Mayor Fleetwood, Whatcom County Council, and County Executive Sidhu:

Over the last week or two, I have been reviewing body worn camera recordings of Bellingham Police Department’s Public Information Officer, Lt. Claudia Murphy related to City of Bellingham’s increase in parking enforcement during the current pandemic. 

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Regarding RV parking enforcement and equity in Bellingham / Letter to Bellingham City Council

March 15, 2022 Dena Jensen

Click the screenshot of text describing the IChange Justice podcast, “One Crisis Away from Homelessness” to access the description and podcast on Google Podcasts

Sent: Tuesday, March 15, 2022, 06:25:35 PM PDT

Subject: Regarding RV parking enforcement and equity in our community

Dear Bellingham City Council:

Yesterday I was able to listen to most of your March 14, 2022 Committee of the Whole meeting, and your entire discussion related to the “Update on RV’s and the 72 hour Rule.”  

First, I would like to mention the part of the committee discussion on enforcing parking code for RVs where Bellingham Police Department Lieutenant Claudia Murphy responded to Bellingham City Council Chair Hannah Stone talking about the challenge of packing up camping gear increasing in relation to how often people might have to do that. It was apparent in the discussion that most of the community members undergoing code enforcement were living in their RVs as their primary shelter. 

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Calling for more sheltering and services and less policing / Letter to Mayor Fleetwood and the Bellingham City Council

Click the image of two unmasked security officers in black jackets walking together in downtown Bellingham’s commercial district to access the Cascadia Daily News article, “Bellingham hires security to patrol downtown”

February 3, 2022 Dena Jensen

Sent: Thursday, February 3, 2022, 01:11:02 PM PST

Subject: Calling for more sheltering and services and less policing

Dear Mayor Fleetwood and Bellingham City Council:

I don’t know what question was asked by the reporter or what the exact statement was that Mayor Fleetwood made, but the following acknowledgement of the mayor’s that was highlighted in the February 2, 2022 Cascadia Daily article,  “Bellingham hires security to patrol downtown,”

(https://www.cascadiadaily.com/news/2022/feb/02/bellingham-hires-security-to-patrol-downtown/) is a position that I imagine a lot of community members are getting a strong sense of through the supporting actions that are described throughout the article:

“Fleetwood acknowledged that part of the security team’s job is to reduce the visible population of homeless people in the city’s commercial areas.”

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Homefullness in so-called Whatcom County: Can we get a witness?

Click the image of the POOR Press store webpage displaying the cover of the Homefulness Handbook for ordering a copy of the handbook. The page provides additional information about the book

November 15, 2021 Dena Jensen

Bellingham City Council held their November 15, 2021 Special Meeting – Public Comment session tonight. These sessions are not recorded. I have been trying to record each of them, myself, so I have a record of what our community members want their representatives to know. And I keep and submit a written copy of my comments via EngageBellingham, because over half of Council Members do not attend the public comment session each week that they occur, so they apparently never get to hear what has been said.

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Pushing back on the push-back on tiny home villages / Letter to Bellingham and Whatcom County officials

Click the still frame of a YouTube video of the Bellingham City Council Community and Economic Development Committee to access the recording of the May 24, 2021 meeting

March 26, 2021 Dena Jensen

Sent: Wednesday, May 26, 2021, 09:54:49 PM PDT

Subject: Pushing back on the push-back on tiny home villages

Dear Bellingham City Council, Mayor Fleetwood, Whatcom County Council, and County Executive Sidhu:

I recently listened to Bellingham City Council’s Monday, May 24, 2021 Community and Economic Development Committee meeting. I wanted to address comments made by a couple of the City Council Members after Whatcom County Health Department Human Services Manager Anne Deacon gave her presentation. The presentation was on the Health Department’s Recommendations for Consideration by the Homeless Strategies Workgroup that the now-disbanded workgroup had voted to recommend to Whatcom County Council for approval. 

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Take a hard look at Whatcom County’s Severe Weather Shelter history / Letter to the Homeless Strategies Workgroup

Click the graphic image presenting Recommendations for Consideration by the Homeless Strategies Workgroup discussed at their April 16, 2021 meeting to access a text version on the Whatcom County website

April 21, 2021 Dena Jensen

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. 

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