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 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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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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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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‘She comes and goes addressing the camps’: Who decides homeless camp ‘clean ups’ for the City of Bellingham? / Noisy Waters Northwest

Click the screenshot of a HomesNow. Not Later. Facebook post with text and picturing a Zoom meeting still frame of the 9/11/20 Homeless Strategies Workgroup meeting in order to access a recording of that meeting


September 12, 2020 Dena Jensen

On Friday, September 11, 2020 Whatcom County’s Homeless Strategies Workgroup (HSW) held their most recent meeting. Many critical issues were discussed and people should watch and listen to the whole meeting. Homelessness is an emergency for many members of our community.

In this blog post, however, I am providing a transcription of a discussion during the meeting, which began shortly before public comment was taken and continued throughout some of the public comments later on. The discussion focused on Bellingham Police Department (BPD) policy/procedure related to City of Bellingham unauthorized homeless “camp clean ups”, as they are referred to by COB.

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Regarding topics from today’s 8/21/20 Homeless Strategies Workgroup meeting / Letter to Whatcom County’s Homeless Strategies Workgroup

Click the graphic image of the 8/21/2020 Homeless Strategies Workgroup meeting agenda to access the agenda, and links to other Meeting Materials on that page, for the Homeless Strategies Workgroup on the Whatcom County website

August 21, 2020 Dena Jensen

Here’s the link to access the agenda and meeting materials, for today’s August 21, 2020 Homeless Strategies Workgroup meeting: http://whatcomcounty.us/2748/Homeless-Strategies-Workgroup-Meeting-In

I was able to remotely attend the last 45 minutes. I will view the first half of the Zoom meeting after the recording gets posted. Below is my email to the HSW regarding what was discussed during the period of the meeting for which I was present. I had tried to make a public comment, but today was a technical difficulty day for me. When I was unmuted in the Zoom meeting, alas, workgroup members still couldn’t hear me.

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Markis Dee calls for COB to reallocate funds from homeless camp sweeps to sheltering people who are homeless / Noisy Waters Northwest

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Click this graphic with an image of Markis Dee looking toward the Whatcom Museum in downtown Bellingham to access his 6/21/20 video posted on his Facebook page

June 22, 2020  Dena Jensen

Markis Dee is calling on social justice advocacies to join together to take more powerful action to address crises we are facing. Along with that, he reminds us that individuals who care can demand action regarding defunding the police and he has a specific call for reallocating funds from homeless camp sweeps to sheltering.

Contact info for Bellingham City Council, ccmail@cob.org, and Whatcom County Council, council@co.whatcom.wa.us

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Drop-in Center shelter in pursuit of move; more sheltering solutions needed / Email to the Bellingham City Council and Mayor Fleetwood

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Click the screenshot of a headline, photo of the Public Market building on Cornwall Ave. in Bellingham, and small section of text to access the full June 10, 2020 Press Release on the City of Bellingham website.

June 12, 2020  Dena Jensen

Here’s a summary before I move on to the text of my email to the Bellingham City Council and Mayor Fleetwood.

A couple articles have come out recently – a commentary in Northwest Citizen, and a news story in The Bellingham Heraldabout the potential move of Lighthouse Mission Ministries’ Drop-In Center, from it’s temporary location at Bellingham High School while the school was off session due to COVID-19, to the vacant Public Market building in downtown Bellingham. The relocated Drop-In Center would conceivably remain in that building for a period of up to four years. Continue reading

Restricted brainstorming during the May 29, 2020, Whatcom County Homeless Strategies Workgroup meeting / Letter to the Homeless Strategies Workgroup

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Click the graphic of members of the Homeless Strategies Workgroup, each shown in their own video squares during a virtual meeting, to access the video recording of the May 29, 2020 Homeless Strategies Workgroup meeting on the Whatcom County website

June 1, 2020  Dena Jensen

On May 29, 2020 Whatcom County’s Homeless Strategies Workgroup held its first meeting since March, 13, 2020, shortly after Governor Inslee declared a State of Emergency regarding COVID-19. Here is a link to the meeting agenda: http://whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/47558/Meeting-Agenda-24—2020-05-29

Below is an email I wrote to the Homeless Strategies Workgroup regarding that May 29 meeting.

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