• Thu. Dec 8th, 2022

Seattle’s oldest ‘sanctioned’ homeless camp needs to move but has nowhere to go

ByDebra J. Aguilar

Mar 8, 2022

Seattle’s only “allowed” homeless encampment needs to move and it has nowhere to go. The move comes at a time of Mayor Bruce Harrell changing how the city handles the homelessness crisis and a call to increase the number of campsites sanctioned by at least one member of city council.

The camp in question is Tent City 3, located on the lawn of the Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church at 7500 Greenwood Avenue. The camp has moved dozens of times during its 20-year existence on purpose.

“The way it works with Tent City 3 is that we move around,” said Jesara Schroeder, a 10-month resident and camp accountant. “If we stay too long in one place, it becomes a burden, no matter where we are.”

The church has hosted the camp four other times, but stays are limited. The current stay expires April 2 and cannot be extended, a church spokesperson said.

“In the past, camp was limited to 90 days at one location, so that defined the length of their stays,” said church deacon Patrick Meagher.

“The camp and the residents have been just wonderful during their time with us,” Meagher said. “While our neighborhood has overwhelmingly supported us to host TC3, there are a few neighbors and businesses that are pushing back.”

Share/Wheel, which runs the camp, relied on invitations from churches and private landowners as hosts. Schroeder says there have been no invitations so far.

“We sent letters looking for places to go after that,” Schroeder said.

One such letter was addressed to Seattle council member Andrew Lewis, who chairs the council’s committee on homelessness.

Lewis floated the idea of ​​expanding the number of city-allowed campsites to 10. We contacted Lewis and his office about the Tent City 3 situation and received no response.

A spokesperson for Harrell said her deputy mayor for homelessness, Tiffany Washington, was “open to recommendations from Tent City 3 management on potential permanent locations.”

Harrell has asked his staff for patience as he implements his homelessness plan. These details were not disclosed.

By some accounts, the camp has been a good neighbor. When someone broke into the Sip and Ship directly across the street, two people from the camp stopped any theft.

“They heard the glass shattering and they ran and chased the individual out of the store,” said Diana Naramore, owner of Sip and Ship. “And now we and our team love them because they came out and helped me save my business.”

When the camp receives an invitation, it moves to public land as it did in the summer of 2019 when it moved to a grass field near the Ravenna Park and Ride field. Many residents of the neighborhood expressed their dissatisfaction with the move.

The camp has always relied on donations to survive. In 2021, the Seattle City Council appropriated $80,000 to support the camp, Schroeder said. She says the camp is expected to receive an additional $80,000 from the city this year.

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