Sweep the Sweeps; House, Serve, and Shelter / Noisy Waters Northwest

Click the screen shot of text from the Bellingham City Club webpage describing the April 28, 2021 event, Chronic Homelessness: A Nationwide Challenge to view a web-based version of this information

April 29, 2021 Dena Jensen

Yesterday I attended Bellingham City Club’s online event, “Chronic Homelessness: A Nationwide Challenge.” This was Wednesday, April 28, the same day that Bellingham Police Department’s homeless encampment cleanup coordinator and fellow officers were out to clean up the “remainder,” as the coordinator described it, of homeless encampments at Maritime Heritage Park. (The ACLU equates camp cleanups and camp sweeps.) Some other encampment locations had been tagged to be vacated or were given instruction to bring all possessions off the streets and into parked RVs. 

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Sweep of unsheltered community members from Port of Bellingham property / Noisy Waters Northwest

Click the still frame picturing Port Commissioner Ken Bell at his desk from a YouTube video of the Port of Belliingham’s March 16, 2021 Port Commission meeting to access the final public comment period of the meeting shortly before the meeting adjourned

March 21, 2021 Dena Jensen

It seems that the Port of Bellingham would benefit from hearing more from all of us here in Whatcom County about the motivations for our desire of them to help contribute solutions to our friends and neighbors sleeping outside and getting swept by police officers in Bellingham and at WWU.  Apparently they were also swept from Port of Bellingham property at Laurel and Cornwall on the day that COB swept folks from Geri Field. Contact information is at the bottom fo this post. 

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Serenity Outreach Services strongly condemns City’s decision to sweep Geri Field homeless encampment / Press Release, Serenity Outreach Services Bellingham

March 15, 2021 Press Release, Serenity Outreach Services

“Serenity Outreach Services is open to the public to share, and learn from one another, as we endeavor to find solutions together, with the common goal being to cooperatively end homelessness.” Click the graphic, with a blue marine background with a heart-shaped tentacle logo with a green house in its center, to access their Facebook page.

Serenity Outreach Services strongly condemns the city’s decision to sweep the Geri field homeless encampment. We feel the homeless encampment sweeps must be addressed as it relates to us as a nonprofit, as community members, and as tax-paying individuals. The sweep goes against recent CDC guidelines, Whatcom County Health Department guidance, and the recent 9th Circuit Superior Court Ruling.

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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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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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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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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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