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

July 29, 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

By the time the December 7, 2020 Bellingham City Council meeting arrived last year, the protest calling for more homeless services known as 210 Camp or Camp 210, had been occupying the lawn at Bellingham City Hall for almost a month.

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Base Camp, or sweeps: City used Lighthouse Mission sheltering capacity to limit their emergency options last season

May 14, 2021 Dena Jensen

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.

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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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A call to stop moving dangerous and unsafe conditions to new locations in Whatcom County / Letter to Bellingham and Whatcom County officials

Credit for map image of streets and businesses in downtown Bellingham near the cross streets of Cornwall Ave. and York St.: Google Maps (modified with current Base Camp location and an arrow indicating Arlis’s Restaurant)

April 14, 2021 Dena Jensen

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). 

Here is the email I sent about all that tonight: 

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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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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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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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Letter to Whatcom County’s Homeless Strategies Workgroup RE people being turned away from shelter during hostile weather / Noisy Waters Northwest

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Click the graphic to access the Meeting Information page for the Homeless Strategies Workgroup on the Whatcom County website

February 14, 2020  Dena Jensen

Here is the email I sent this evening to Whatcom County’s Homeless Strategies Workgroup:

Subject: Regarding 1. make-up of HSW membership 2. People being turned away from shelter during hostile weather

Dear Homeless Strategies Workgroup:

I listened to the February 14, 2020 Homeless Strategies Workgroup (HSW) meeting and wanted to offer some thoughts on a couple of issues that came up during the meeting. During one portion of the meeting there was discussion about adding additional members to the workgroup. There had been a suggestion that possibly DVSAS should have a designated position on the workgroup. And then it was suggested that category be more broad, so as to not single out one particular organization but to represent the type of population they serve. 

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Severe weather homeless strategies: picking up the pace to come from behind / Noisy Waters Northwest

Click the graphic of Bellingham City Council Member Dan Hammill wearing a gray and white plaid shirt sitting in a black chair in Bellingham City Council chambers to access video of the 8/26/19 Bellingham City Council Committee of the Whole meeting

August 30, 2019 Dena Jensen

“Okay, I’ll just take a quick point of privilege just to say that we absolutely recognize we have the need for shelter, especially – we have it all year round – but especially in the winter months. The group I believe, that Council Member Lilliquist is referring to, is the Homeless Strategies Workgroup. Council Member Barry Buchanan from the County’s side of the street organized that group. Stakeholders, several of us, attend that every two weeks. We take that issue very seriously and we want to come to a resolution on providing safe shelter for our most vulnerable neighbors. So, we absolutely take it very seriously.” – Bellingham City Council Member Dan Hammill

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