Why Housing Is Hard: Fungibility
Canned Food & Membership Drive
Date Correction: Quarterly Meeting
Large-Scale Community Vaccination
Diamond Jim’s Reopening!
Monthly Rental Sought
Radio Free Fl!p: A Little Help From My Friends
I’m looking for some big metal garage shelves to store homeless supplies on. (Or maybe a bunk bed frame with no mattresses?) The sleeping bags are coming!!! It will take some time to get each bag situated one-on-one with someone who really needs it. Same with the closed-cell-foam ground pads I’m ordering. So I need a safe way to store them off the floor. I’ve been pouncing on great supplies available right now, while they are on sale! I’d like to buy used shelving or bunk beds. Bookshelves won’t be deep enough. I’ve been watching Craigslist but have found nothing local yet. I’d be delighted to have help searching. Thank you! Love/Fl!p
WHY HOUSING IS HARD: FUNGIBILITY
I was so impressed with this that I requested permission to reprint it here. I’m grateful to have a better understanding of another part of the challenges we face
You can’t just reallocate funds, they’re not that flexible. If you’re going to ask for taxes to be collected you have to say what those taxes are going to be collected for. Once you’ve stated that you’re going to spend the money on something, you can’t just decide after you’ve collected the money, to spend it on something else. I would love it if it worked that way, but I also like the idea of the checks and balances, because it only takes one person to make it all go horribly wrong if we don’t have these tools in place. In simplistic terms if you were to give your preteen five dollars to go to the store and buy milk and they came home with candy, you’d be upset. Well taxes are the same way. Housing Authorities across the country have been trying to create some flexibility in their financial accounting for emergencies and they’ve had some success and some disappointments over the years.
Putting up housing, especially in the downtown area, is an extremely expensive thing, because there is land acquisition, receiving bids from the architecture firms and the contractors. This entire process has to follow federal, state and city laws, laws like the Davis–Bacon Act of 1931, Just to name one. If you’re using taxes from Federal collection, state collection, and/or city collection, they each have their own requirements attached before you’re allowed to tap into that money. The Samish Commons development went about it a little backwards because the Housing Authority acquired the land first, due to the city taking the property in eminent domain. The whole process of acquiring the land and then handing it over to the Housing Authority took about four years. The Housing Authority had to established designation qualifications for the property in order to acquire funding. Because the Housing Authority works with tax dollars they can’t just acquire property and sit on it; there has to be a plan put into place first.
Every penny of tax dollars comes with rules attached. If we want to make real change we need to start going through some of those rules and figuring out if they are helping or hindering the process. Housing Authorities across the nation have fought to have some fungibility, so that they could be a bit more independent. But since the Bush administration, the clamp down on what can and can’t be used by tax dollars has gotten less flexible and not more. It took our Housing Authority here in town about three years to get funding to replace the elevators in the towers because that’s how long it took to go through the red tape on the federal end. Our Housing Authority here can’t make a move without getting OK from the feds at some point along the process, because every Housing Authority property is wrapped up in tax credits and or the section 8 program which are two federal programs that help us achieve low income housing in the first place. The federal government audits the Housing Authority every year, to ensure that they are doing best practices, and to double check that the tax dollars are being spent on the things that were promised. Each Housing Authority gets a rating from the federal government and if a Housing Authority isn’t doing best practices they get put into a category called “troubled.” If they can’t pull themselves out of that category, the feds can come in and shut them down.
I know when you’re standing outside the process it can look like things should be easier, and I agree to some point it should be just a little easier than it is. However, I’ll take these rules and these complications because they are proof that the program is doing what it supposed to be doing. I can point to a lot of properties around town that demonstrate that the program works, because year after year we continue to chip away at the lack of low income housing in our town. I do wish that available low income housing could keep up with the pace of homelessness and the demand of low income housing, but I’ll take what we can get over nothing at all. The Housing Authority is only one small part of an overall network, working on these problems. It does have its place, but by no means can solve every issue which is why we need interconnected systems working together because nothing is going to be a one size fits all. There is no simple quick answer. I wish there was. ~ BJ Plaskett
I’ve got pasta & lentils & beans & rice
Cornmeal & barley & bacon & cheese
Butter & onions to make it all nice
Containers to hold it as snug as you please
One could make soup that’s delightful to taste
If one doesn’t, ingredients all go to waste
Hi Neighbors –
The “apple sauce guy” piping up one more time:
You haven’t heard much of the apple detail of this soup brigade operation, because the apple supply had literally dried up. Or found a way of self mushing. It’s a natural, seasonal thing and I don’t blame the homegrown apples. They all were delicious, my, my, my, to the very end…
Well, I morphed into a passable casserole cook. That too is enjoyable and makes me believe to warm as much and stick even more urgently to the ribs, while our long term planning, our stake in it as a community need to find focus, consensus, along with all the questions that need to be asked and answers need to be thought of and courage need to be figured out…
However, back to sauce: since I still have this great loaner mashing equipment that I promised to give back in March…anybody wanting me to turn their bottom of the apple crate into one more round of tummy smiles? Give me a shout. ~ Max Eberhard firstname.lastname@example.org
COLUMBIA NEIGHBORHOOD CANNED FOOD & MEMBERSHIP DRIVE
Saturday 2/20 from 10am-2pm
Help out others and drive by the Share Shack and donate canned goods that will be delivered to The Food Bank. ALSO, we will have our annual CNA Membership Drive AT the Share Shack (Corner of W. Connecticut and Henry St) where 40% of your membership will be donated to one of the following organizations of your choice: Whatcom Human Rights Task Force, Whatcom Community Foundation, Homes Now, The Mission, Northwest Youth Services or The Food Bank. $10 individual membership, $15 for family membership. You can drive up and we will have COVID safe measures for paying for your membership (cash, check, venmo options) and for letting us know where you want your donation to go! If you can’t make it to the membership drive, please fill out this form and someone will be in touch with you: https://docs.google.com/…/1M1UiLSCUMfy29LQRGgO…/edit
COLUMBIA NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION QUARTERLY MEETING
Online – Zoom Call
Join us for a Neighborhood Town Hall and hear updates and action items from our City Council – Hannah Stone, Mayor – Seth Fleetwood, Whatcom PUD Commissioner – Christine Grant and State Legislator – Alicia Rule
The Town Hall focus is local to statewide updates and actions we can take.
1) Welcome and CNA Announcements
2) CNA Treasurer’s and MNAC Report
3) Get to Know Your Neighbors Activity
4) Neighborhood Town Hall
5) Membership Drive
6) Board Elections
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 883 3296 8863
LARGE-SCALE COMMUNITY VACCINATION CLINIC COMING IN MARCH
Today, a community collaboration of healthcare providers, including Bellingham Technical College (BTC), Family Care Network, PeaceHealth, Sea Mar Community Health Centers, Unity Care NW and the Whatcom County Health Department announce plans to open a large-scale community COVID-19 vaccination clinic to be located at Bellingham Technical College.
The Steering Committee anticipates opening the vaccine clinic in March, depending on vaccine availability. The group’s goal is to vaccinate up to 5,000 people at this site per week, depending on the reliability of weekly vaccine shipments from the state. The group is working diligently to finalize operations, staffing, logistics and other details
The community vaccination clinic will abide by the Washington State Department of Health’s phased guidelines for vaccine eligibility. Whatcom County is currently in Phase 1B Tier 1 of vaccine distribution. Those currently eligible for vaccination include anyone 65 and older, all people 50 and older who live in multigenerational households, workers in healthcare settings and long-term care facility staff and residents. Demand for the vaccine still exceeds supply. All parties are hopeful vaccine shipments will increase in the coming weeks.
DIAMOND JIM’S REOPENING!
This just in from Jim: Diamond Jim’s is opening up for inside dining tomorrow morning (Feb 19) at 7am to 1:30 pm. Friday through Monday for now. ~ Karen Walkup, Lynn St
Yofi, my share dog with Linda Burns, was stolen. Yesterday Linda’s Dakota truck was parked in a lot while she was shopping. She left Yofi in the cab while she’d shopped. She came out and her truck was gone. The police know. ~ Love, Esther
MONTHLY RENTAL SOUGHT
Musician friends of Margie Katz & Mike Schway: My husband and I are looking for a place to stay for a month or more from March 15 to around April 15. We own a home in Metaline Falls, WA near Spokane but have been renting a house in Bellingham during the winter but our lease ends March 15. I need to extend by at least a month because of a sudden leg injury and because all my doctors that have been dealing with it are here and not at my home in Eastern Washington. Please contact me if you know of any houses, apartments, etc. we could rent in the Bellingham area. We would need a kitchen, heat, hopefully WIFI, and it would have to be mostly furnished. Please contact me at email@example.com or 509 675-6749. Thank you.
When people talk about time-traveling to the past, they worry about radically changing the present by doing something small. But barely anyone in the present really thinks they can radically change the future by doing something small. I really like the thought of each of us doing small things, together, in a way that makes the present better for everyone.
RADIO FREE FL!P: A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS
Re-imagined by my beloved friend Linda Waterfall. If you never knew her, you missed a lot. And now her friends have come together and given us the gift of some amazing recordings of her music, her heart, her humor, her presence. Check the beautiful website, and that hilarious song about family holidays!
Love/Fl!p 360-671-4511 2518 Cherry Street firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re willing to share your phone with me, personally, I would love that, and would not share it further without your express permission. Nor would I ever exploit it. You might put mine in your phone so if I were to phone you, you’d know it was me. I’d also suggest adding email@example.com to your contacts because that helps keep my emails from going to your junk mail.
If you want to ask me to post something, just email me. If it’s urgent, phone. If it’s a real emergency, call 911.