Bellingham plans for emergency winter shelters: a spring to spring timeline / Noisy Waters Northwest

January 16, 2022 Dena Jensen

March 3, 2021

In a communications document from early last year, with the header “Winter Into Spring Communications Strategy,” shared in an email by Bellingham Parks and Recreation Director Nicole Oliver, there was an outline point that stated, “Health Dept. recommends no government-run emergency winter shelters in future.”

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Whatcom and Bellingham governments to community: expect to go without / Noisy Waters Northwest

Click the image of participants at a Zoom meeting to access the Whatcom County meeting information page for the Housing Advisory Committee

December 11, 2021 Dena Jensen

Back in November it was just a statement at a City Council committee meeting and more narrowly focused on homeless sheltering: “We are doing what we can locally. We will not meet the demand. We will never meet the demand.” 

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So far, Whatcom County winter season sheltering options are Scrooged / Noisy Waters Northwest

Click the image to access the most recent information on Lighthouse Mission Ministries’ emergency sheltering availability

December 8, 2021 Dena Jensen

At the December 2, 2021 Whatcom County Coalition to End Homelessness (WCCEH) meeting that took place over Zoom, Whatcom County Human Services Supervisor Ann Beck prefaced her update on Whatcom County winter sheltering efforts by saying it had been a bad day at work for her. She explained that would be the reason, should she tear up at any point during her presentation. Beck also shared that she was due to attend another meeting related to the heavy flooding that has displaced unprecedented numbers of people in the County.

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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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Kristina Michele Martens shares post-election perspectives with Noisy Waters Northwest

Image of Kristina Michele Martens, the apparent winner of Bellingham City Council’s At-Large seat in the 2021 general election. She will be the first Black woman to serve on that Council. She is smiling in the photo, is wearing a dark top with buttons, and there is green landscaping behind her.

November 8, 2021 Dena Jensen

But I just truly hope that a lot of people that would have normally never paid attention to a Council race or a campaign this long, and never thought that they could see themselves in local government and/or being able to have an impact – I’m hoping I inspired a handful who will go on to do the same, so that there’s just more people who understand the exact crises that we’re up against, being able to discuss them at a level that actually has impact. 

— Kristina Michele Martens
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November Bellingham events: A Homeless People’s Solution to Homelessness…/ Press release, POOR Magazine

Image – included with the press release – of mural on the side of a building displaying the word Homefulness at the top, in orange and yellow graduated tones. Images of Indigenous people, Black people, and people of color are painted below the lettering, some shown speaking, some shown with drums, some shown with masks, some hold posters. One poster says ‘We Are Not Trash – Stop Sweeping Us.’ The other poster says ‘Land Back so Houseless Indigenous Peoples Can Build Homes.’

October 25, 2021 Press release, POOR Magazine

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

A Homeless People’s Solution to Homelessness…

POOR MAGAZINE, a collective of Poor, Homeless, Indigenous, Black and Brown writers and activists, hit the road to share an innovative model to solving homelessness called Homefulness. Members of POOR Magazine will share their innovative “Homefulness Handbook,” accompanied by a series of writing/poetry workshops in encampments, community centers, schools and jails with other homeless and formerly homeless communities. Leading a tour on stolen land and hoarded resources, they share the template of Homefulness via storytelling and spoken word performance with fellow houseless and housed residents of so-called Bellingham, WA., Bend and Eugene, OR. 

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Chapter Four: The City Council Members – Whatcom Barriers to Equity, a review for 2021 candidates / Noisy Waters Northwest

October 19, 2021 Dena Jensen

From Introduction – Whatcom Barriers to Equity, a review for 2021 candidates : 

Materials that were responsive to a number of recent public records requests obtained from the City of Bellingham, and one request from Whatcom County, provide insights into notable communications strategies of existing City staff, the mayor’s office, and some City Council Members regarding many of the winter’s events related to homelessness. On some of these matters, communications were being coordinated between the City and County executive branches.

Based on information contained in those materials, an important question arises regarding future actions of folks newly stepping up to run, or those continuing on to serve their community in public office: will they take action to eliminate government approaches that view or portray individuals and community organizations serving people in crisis as adversaries?

Chapter One: The County Executive – Whatcom Barriers to Equity, a review for 2021 candidates

Chapter Two: City Staff and the Mayor – Whatcom Barriers to Equity, a review for 2021 candidates

Chapter Three: The Police Department – Whatcom Barriers to Equity, a review for 2021 candidates

Chapter Four: The City Council Members

[Editor’s note: all redactions in this chapter are provided by the editor in the interest of not providing specific names of private persons considered unnecessary to the integrity of this review.]

During the Bellingham City Council’s public comment period at their February 22, 2021 regular Council meeting, a community member read the demands that were current at that time, that had been posted on social media by Bellingham Occupied Protest Mutual Aid, also known as BOP Mutual Aid.

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