Posted on in Vestry Corner by The Rev. David Marshall
Out meeting started at 7:00 after all the attendees had signed in and were provided an informational packet from SHARE/WHEEL
The Reverend David Marshall opened with a prayer
Representatives from Tent City 3 and SHARE Wheel gave a presentation, describing the history of their organization and of tent cities in our area.
Each explained their own role in the camp, and how they contribute to its self governing existence.
The Tent City code of conduct was explained including the 0 tolerance for drug use and the requirements for each resident to take part in running the camp per the democratically decided on rules. A five member executive committee leads the camp
They explained the need for safe places for the homeless to stay citing some statistics including the number of homeless who have dies on the street in King County, (30 in 2011, 36 in 2012, and 54 so far in 2013) Recently 8500 homeless people were counted with only 2500 shelter beds available.
After the presentation all attendees were invited to ask questions or give input.
A visitor from Haller Lake church said that they had hosted Tent City 10 times and remarked that when the camp is present in their neighborhood they notice a decrease in criminal activity due to the presence of Tent City and the way they patrol the neighborhoods. She also mentioned how meaningful it was to take the pre-school to visit the camp
Another lady named asked what the estimated length of stay would be and was told 90 days. She also commented she wished there were more trashcans on the Interurban Trail.
It was asked if the TC3 neighborhood patrols identify themselves. They wear construction worker type vests which are marked. Every camper is required to take a turn on the patrols which run on 3-hour shifts going around the clock
The current camp population is about 70. Maximum capacity is 100.
The SHARE representatives were asked if there are volunteer opportunities to cook meals for the camp. The meal calendar for the camp is managed by the Greater Seattle Cares organization and can be found on their web site, and if a person has an interest and cannot provide a whole meal they are always welcome to join the regular volunteers at St. Dunstans who prepare a meal for the camp each Tuesday afternoon in the church kitchen.
The next question was “what happens when someone cannot stay at Tent City, especially if it is due to drug use or some other reason that would not make it possible for them to function in the camp adhering to the rules and expectations?” The explanation was that the person would be escorted away making sure they are out of the area. These people are not just turned back into the neighborhood. Efforts are made to find a more suitable placement.
Tent City does have a camp cell phone so they can call police or needed services and also so a call can be returned.
There are 4 dogs and 3 cats in the camp. The animals and owners also have their own code of conduct.
Brother John Ryan pointed out that the church staff regularly finds evidence of drug use including paraphernalia on the church grounds. This activity is something we can expect to see stop while the camp is at St. Dunstans because of the way the campers will patrol the site. Brother John has experience with Tent City because he served at St. Georges who hosted the camp 4 times.
When asked how long a move takes, they explained that they accomplish a move to a new location in 8 to 10 hours most of the time.
Attendees asked the campers what their needs are, and were directed to both the SHARE and Greater Seattle Cares web sites that have needs lists.
One gentleman from the neighborhood brought up several points, letting the TC3 reps know that the area is prone to rodent infestation. The Campers explained they have totes for storing foodstuff and have experience with combating rodents, mostly involving being proactive with putting up barriers and keeping things clean. Their dumpster is emptied twice a week.
He expressed a concern about fire and sited different fire code regulations. It was explained that no open flames are allowed in camp, not even a hot plate. A city permit is also required.
Next he asked about noise and was told that the camp has a quiet time from 9pm to 8am.
Pets in the camp are kept on leashes
No children live at TC3
Campers daytime activities include going to work and going to appointments. They have bus passes that allow them to leave the camp and go elsewhere during the day. The camp also has common areas including a TV Tent and computer tent.
Campers were queried about how they keep warm and simply said lots of blankets and warm clothes. They like hand warmers.
They also have a shower trailer with hot water but are not always able to use it. The shower is run from water and power provided by the host church and grey water goes into the sewer.
We pointed out to the attendees that the camp while at St. Dunstans would be in the lower lot near the entrance to the trail. This is the site that used to house the old rectory and is clear and flat.
The Executive Committee desk or tent sits at the entrance to the camp. The Executive Committee is the governing body of the camp and is made up of 5 people called ECs. If someone were to approach the camp or want to speak with them this would be the first stop.
TC3 always has only one exit and entrance.
People expressed some frustrations with some of the issues that currently exist in the neighborhood, and expressed a desire for a greater police presence. They wanted the campers to feel safe.
Bill Bear from Greater Seattle Cares spoke describing a time when TC3 came to stay at Prince of Peace years ago and how meaningful that was for him. He invited anyone to take an interest and to take the time to meet the campers and to build relationships with them, as they can be a blessing to the community.
The meeting ended when there were no more questions or comments at 8pm.