50.1 F
Sunday, May 31, 2020

Community members campout at City Hall for homeless solidarity

By Paul Kelly


The Stop The Sweeps campout, taking place in front of Bellingham City Hall between Dec. 1 and Dec. 4, is part of a larger national movement focused on treating the homeless with dignity. Sweeps, as they’re called, are the traditional method of addressing homelessness with forced evictions of homeless camps. The idea of this movement is to end sweeps, and create more stability in the lives of homeless.

The sleep-out, originally scheduled to end Sunday, Dec. 3,  was extended an additional night so participants could attend and speak at a city council meeting Monday night.

Bellingham residents set up tents at City Hall to raise awareness for homelessness on Friday, Dec. 1. // Photo by Paul Kelly

“We need to stop the sweeps,” said former student Galen Herz, an organizer for Bellingham Tenants Union. “Rather than chasing individuals who are experiencing homelessness and camping around the city from place to place, [we need to] provide them with basic resources to camp cleanly and safely. And similarly, provide an area for people who are living out of their cars to park safely.”

Doug Gustafson and his business partner Jim Peterson run a nonprofit called Homes Now that raises funds for building tiny homes for the homeless in Bellingham. They have been asking the city for help and land to build these tiny homes since the creating of Homes Now this past June. They set up camp on the Bellingham City Hall lawn to raise awareness of the problem, and also to hand out some help to local homeless.

“Homelessness has always been a passion for me,” Peterson said. “We have to solve it, it’s the easiest thing to solve: house people.”

Jim Peterson (right) and Amy Glasser discuss the way forward for Homes Now inside Peterson’s tent during a campout in front of City Hall on Friday, Dec. 1, 2017. // Photo by Paul Kelly

The simplicity of their approach is what often trips up other people. Homeless people have many stereotypes associated with them, so it can be difficult to break through those barriers when asking others to help.

“Basically, our main philosophy is that homelessness just means without a home,” Gustafson said. “You could have other problems attached to it, but other people that are housed have those problems too. Because they’re in a bad position people use that as an excuse to claim that what they’re doing is why they’re in the bad position.”



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Must Read

Behind the systems: WWU Newman Center forced resignation of student employee after learning of same-sex partner

Student says she was told to break up with her girlfriend or quit her job

Behind the systems: Former members frustrated over student’s resignation, double standards for dealing with sexual activity

Former members say rules regarding moral conduct were not applied equally This is...

Resident advisers hold open forum with university officials to discuss concerns

Written by: Bram Briskorn and Questen Inghram Over 300 people packed into Arntzen Hall, room 100 as if it were...

Latest News

Survey shows Whatcom County’s small businesses are struggling

Outside of The Shakedown in 2018. // Photo by Lili McMurtrey By...

Mental health and the COVID conundrum

People living with mood disorders may find it hard to get out of bed in the morning. Social distancing due to...

Mix drink to-go kits are the top buy at La Fiamma Wood Fire Pizza

A pizza and Moscow Mule mixing kit from La Fiamma Pizza, who are conducting carry-out services. Displayed on the deck of...

Western professors’ recommended reads

By Macy Adkinson For those seeking adventure in a time of uncertainty, recreational reading...

Bellingham mask sewing effort continues with Molly’s Sewing Machine Service

Sewing machine repairwoman and seamstress Molly Chambers in her downtown Bellingham studio. // Photo courtesy of Molly’s Sewing Machine Service

More Articles Like This