March 29, 2016
There are a number of misconceptions from a previous letter (in the Redmond Reporter) on homeless encampments that we would like to address.
Faith communities initiate the hosting of homeless encampments as a part of their religious mission and with the full support of their congregations. Private, non-profit organizations run the encampments in partnership with the faith community. All homeless encampments need a sponsor to locate in Redmond.
The City of Redmond does not host, sponsor or locate homeless encampments. Neither do any other Eastside cities. The homeless encampment across the street from Kirkland City Hall is sponsored by the faith community located there, not the city.
The City's role is to regulate the conditions in which encampments can operate. Currently, the City Council is looking at revisions to the current regulations required for homeless encampments when they are located within the City of Redmond. The City Council will examine site conditions such as the length of stay, the length between stays, and the permissible frequency of stays within a five-year period, as well as the mechanism to revoke a permit if there are unacceptable impacts. Within those conditions, it is the decision of any faith community whether or not to host an encampment.
April 5th is a City Council business meeting in which anyone can testify for up to 4 minutes. On April 12th, the City Council will conduct a study session to examine the questions above. Any action the Council takes would occur on April 19th or later.
The City has a long history of working with community partners to address this very serious issue. Redmond, in collaboration with neighboring cities, dedicates significant resources to non-profit organizations that operate emergency shelters and transitional housing for the homeless. The City also supports efforts to increase the stock of available permanent low-income housing options.
And to clarify for the record, four City Council Members and the Mayor own homes on Education Hill that are proximate to those churches who have hosted encampments. The City has limited authority over how these churches host, but not whether or not an individual congregation chooses to host. It is within this context that we strive to make decisions for the benefit of our community within the limits of the laws governing separation of church and state.
John Marchione Hank Margeson Kimberly Allen
Mayor Council President Council Vice President
Editor's note: This Editorial was not submitted to the Redmond Blog. It was forwarded to me. I assume it was sent to Andy Nystrom of the Redmond Reporter.