Representatives of Tent City 4 and SHARE/WHEEL (self-help organizations for homeless men and women) addressed a small and respectful gathering of citizens at St. Jude Catholic Church on Education Hill Thursday evening. Pastor Dave Rogerson welcomed attendees to the neighborhood forum which was held to gain input about Tent City’s possible return to the church grounds this spring.
The homeless encampment was based at St. Jude in early 2007 and currently is at the Woodinville Unitarian Universalist Church. St. Jude’s Pastoral Council has endorsed the idea of hosting Tent City again, but that is subject to approval from the City of Redmond.
“Most places we’ve been, they invite us back,” noted Tent City 4 spokesperson Bruce Thomas.
Tent City residents said they feel secure when they are with others who share their situation.
“There is safety in numbers … you can die out there by yourself,” one remarked.
Not only for their own well-being, but to ensure a harmonious stay in the host community, Tent City residents must undergo a criminal background check and obey a strict code of conduct or will be ejected.
The encampment forbids drugs, alcohol, weapons, violence, verbal abuse, open flames, trespassing or disturbing neighbors. As well, Tent City residents are required to attend community meetings and assist with work such as cleaning and security.
None of the Redmond neighbors at Thursday’s forum voiced any opposition to Tent City’s return. One question was, “How long do people stay?”
Thomas replied, “About six weeks is average. Some stay longer if they want to or need to. … But believe me, nobody wants to retire to a tent.”
Most Tent City residents have jobs and use public transportation to get to and from work, he added.
Steven Fischer, senior planner for the City of Redmond, said he anticipates that permit discussions will begin next week. If an application is received from Tent City 4, city staff will evaluate the application as they would with any other land use permit, he said. Discussions would include such questions as, “Will there be any changes from last time?” In addition, the city would host a public meeting, most likely at Redmond Junior High School, to respond to any questions or comments before proceeding further.
Updates will appear on the city’s Web site, www.redmond.gov and in the Redmond Reporter at www.redmond-reporter.com