Tent City 4 returns to Kirkland in April

TentCity4Header

The Lake Washington United Methodist Church located at 7525 132nd Ave NE in South Rose Hill will host Tent City 4 starting April 24 and will remain in Kirkland through July 17.

LWUMC-LogoFor additional information or if you have any questions, please visit www.lwumc.com

LWUMC also posts a Tent City Needs List.

The following text is from the LWUMC website:

Tent City 4 is a temporary tent encampment for homeless men and women. Under the sponsorship of SHARE/WHEEL, an organization of homeless and formerly homeless people, Tent City 4 operates under a strict code of conduct on the grounds of churches who are willing to host them. From May to August 2005, Lake Washington UMC hosted Tent CIty 4 on the church property. Prior to hosting Tent City, teams from LWUMC served dinner weekly at the previous two host congregations, and we have continued to serve dinner at least once a month at the new hosts. In addition, we respond to requests for on-going needs for supplies at Tent City.

Tent City provides immediate, safe shelter for homeless men and women. Tent City is open 24/7, with security posted at the single entrance. Unlike many indoor shelters, residents may come and go as needed on their own schedules. Couples are not separated, but families with young children are directed to other social services. Residents are screened for outstanding warrants and sex offender status. Within the safety of Tent City, homeless men and women find a supportive community and begin to rebuild their lives. We know that Tent City can help save lives; a former Tent City resident is now a member of our congregation.

Although we believe we were enriched by the opportunity to host Tent City 4, we are saddened by the need for such a camp. We are committed to work to end the crisis of homelessness in our area, and consequently have endorsed King County's Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness.

For those new to the Tent City Project, here is a brief overview of who they are and the nonprofit SHARE, (Seattle Housing and Resource Effort), which sponsors and runs Tent City:

TENT CITY4 (TC4) FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is Tent City?

  • Tent City is a temporary encampment of homeless adults that moves approximately every 90 days.
  • There are two Tent Cities in King County: Tent City 3 in Seattle, and Tent City 4 on the Eastside.

What is the mission of Tent City?

  • To provide a safe place for homeless people to spend the night and keep their belongings;
  • To give a homeless person the privacy and dignity of their own residence (a tent);
  • To develop a sense of community for homeless people who are isolated and alone;
  • To empower homeless people by being responsible for their own community.

Who sponsors Tent City?

Tent City is sponsored and managed by SHARE/WHEEL. (SHARE stands for "Seattle Housing and Resource Effort". WHEEL stands for "Women's Housing Equality and Enhancement League".)  SHARE/WHEEL operates 15 fixed site shelters and two Tent City locations. SHARE/WHEEL manages 350 indoor shelter beds in Seattle, making it the largest shelter-providing organization in the Pacific Northwest.

How long has SHARE/WHEEL been operating?

SHARE/WHEEL has been operating fixed site shelters for 15 years. SHARE/WHEEL has been operating Tent Cities for five years.

How is SHARE/WHEEL funded?

  • SHARE/WHEEL is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, tax-exempt, public charity.
  • SHARE/WHEEL receives about 80% of its funding from the City of Seattle, through contracts for the management of its indoor shelter facilities in Seattle. Its Tent City 4 shelter on the Eastside is not funded by any government funds: It is funded by donations only.

Who runs Tent City 4?

Each Tent City has an executive committee elected by the residents. The Executive Committee is re-elected at regular intervals, to ensure rotation of leadership. All residents are required to attend weekly community meetings and to perform at least one task a day for the community, for a minimum of about 10 hours every two weeks.

How many people live in TC4?

The numbers vary but the average in Woodinville will be from 40 to the maximum allowed 80.

Who are the people living in TC4?

Homeless adults: single men and women, and couples. Children are not allowed in Tent City.

How does TC4 handle security?

  • Tent City 4 is in a fenced area, with a single entry/exit point which is staffed around the clock.  Potential residents must have, or obtain, photo ID. With the help of the King County Sheriff’s Department, a check is performed for each applicant in which the applicant’s name is checked against Washington Criminal Information Center (WACIC) and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) for outstanding warrants and sex offender status.
  • All residents must agree to abide by a code of conduct (see below), which includes rules making the area a drug- alcohol-and weapon-free zone.

What happens to potential residents who are not accepted?

  • If a person seeking admission has outstanding offenses in either area, the person is not admitted and the police are notified to determine arrest status or method of escorting the person out of the area.
  • If the person does not have appropriate ID, he/she must obtain it within 48 hours or leave.
  • If the person is denied access to Tent City due to a history of violent behavior or sexual offenses, he/she is personally escorted to the bus and given a bus pass if necessary. If buses are not running, the individual is placed in a taxicab with taxi script.

What happens to residents who violate the Tent City Code of Conduct?

  • Illegal activities are referred to law enforcement. In fact, the police drop by Tent City at unannounced intervals throughout the day and night. They get to know the Tent City residents, and work together to maintain a peaceful camp.
  • The code of conduct includes consequences for other violations. Repeated or serious offenses will result in the resident being barred from Tent City.

Where does Tent City get tents, blankets, food and other necessities?

Many tents, blankets and other supplies, including food and clothing, are donated by community support from local businesses, parishioners from the host church and from other church congregations, and by residents of the surrounding neighborhood.

How does Tent City get hot meals?

Usually a hot dinner is provided by a church or other charitable organization. Other food is donated, but refrigeration facilities are limited. TC4 includes a kitchen tent with a microwave oven for food preparation, but there are no electrical burners or open flames allowed. The Host Congregation is not expected to, but may choose to provide meals or any assistance they deem necessary for the well-being of the Tent City residents. Over the past two years, more than 50 religious and secular organizations have served at least 35,000 hot suppers at Tent City, for an estimated value of over $92,000.

Does TC4 have toilet and shower facilities?

TC4 has portable toilets which are serviced 3 times per week. A portable shower on a trailer has been transported to the site. Drainage from the shower and sinks (called "grey water") is piped into the septic system at the church. The plumbing set up is inspected before and during the stay by city code enforcement to ensure public health and environmental conditions are maintained.

What about garbage and laundry?

  • TC4's garbage dumpsters are emptied weekly. Residents do litter patrol of TC4 and surrounding areas. Volunteers will help remove recyclables regularly.
  • Blankets and sleeping bags are laundered once a week at Everett Overall Laundry (services have been donated by this business for two years—free of charge).  Personal laundry is handled by each resident, usually at a laundromat.
  • How is transportation for residents handled?
  • SHARE/WHEEL provides METRO bus passes so TC4 residents can get to their jobs, to job interviews, and to medical appointments.
  • When bus service is reduced (on weekends and holidays) taxi script is available. Also, a regular “shuttle service” manned by host/resident volunteers will operate on Sundays. Church and resident volunteers are on an evening stand-by rotation to bring any later-bus-arrivals back to Tent City from downtown Woodinville.

What percentage of Tent City residents have a job?

  • The percentage varies with the TC4 population. Many of the residents are employed, either permanently or temporarily. You will probably see Tent City residents at the bus stop very very early in the morning, because they will be down at Labor Ready by 5:30 a.m. to get day-labor jobs. , Other residents are in educational programs to improve job skills. There are a few people with disabilities that prevent them from getting a job; many of those are on waiting lists for permanent disability housing.

Do people leave Tent City 4?

  • The typical length of stay for residents is about 6 weeks.
  • The Eastside Tent City has found this area to be rich in day-labor and other jobs which lead to permanent employment. In fact, several residents of the 2004 Tent City stay in Woodinville now work and live in Woodinville—such as at McLendon’s and Woodinville Lumber.
  • Other residents, after living a more settled, safe lifestyle surrounded by community volunteers coming and going 24/7, repair relationships with families and move home.
  • One other unique event at Tent City is that while working to keep their own community together, many residents develop friendships with others living in Tent City: After saving money in the free shelter while working, they pool their savings in groups of 2 or 4 people to rent housing together.

Can I come to Tent City 4 to see it firsthand?

Yes, Tent City 4 is open to visitors 24/7. TC4 is currently hosted by Northshore United Church of Christ, 18900 168th Ave NE, until later in the summer. From I-405 go East on Hwy 522. Take the second exit, 195th Street, and go right. Follow this road (Woodinville-Duvall Road) until you reach the lighted intersection at 168th; turn left, and the church is on the right in about one-half block. Visits are encouraged and complete tours can be given during the day and early evening.

Does Tent City pose a threat to its neighbors or to school children?

No. According to an official King County investigation: "Concerning children's safety and the potential threat posed by Tent City 4, no evidence exists in the record suggesting area children or others are facing safety risk.... There is no reason to fear people living at Tent City 4."

Has a Tent City ever been located in a residential area or near schools?

Yes. Because the host is usually a church, Tent Cities have normally been in residential neighborhoods. In Bothell, an elementary school was located within a block of Tent City 4; previous Seattle Tent Cities have been within two blocks of at least ten schools, pre-schools or day cares. On the Eastside, Tent City has now been located near or beside schools in about half of its nine sites over two years. School officials have not reported any incidents of Tent City residents having contact with schools or their children, except to lessen the amount of litter in the area. Abd during the entire history of all Tent Cities, not a single child or other neighbor has been harmed by any Tent City resident, according to police records.

Are neighborhood schools and children safe from possible intruders?

Schools already have procedures in place to deal with unauthorized persons in their buildings and on their grounds. For specific information, contact the schools directly.

Has there been an increase in crime in areas where SHARE/WHEEL's Tent Cities have been located?

No. According to the police in Seattle, Shoreline, Tukwila, Bothell, Kirkland, Bellevue, and Woodinville, there has been no measurable increase in crime in neighborhoods near any Tent City. On May 21, 2004, the Seattle Times published an independent investigation which found that SHARE/WHEEL's Tent Cities do not affect crime rates.

What was the police coverage at the previous Tent City locations?

Generally, law enforcement has made regular daily contact with Tent City. Unscheduled visits are made several times a day. This is the model followed by the King County Sheriff’s officers (under contract with the city) at the previous Woodinville downtown site and also the site at Woodinville Unitarian Universalist Church. In testifying before the Woodinville City Council this month (May 2006), Chief Kent Baxter told the City Council that this arrangement had been successful for Tent City 4 and the local residents.

Source: http://www.northshoreucc.org