Saturday, June 11, 2016

University of Washington making plans to host homeless encampment

One of my Friends sent me this Seattle Times article last night.  When discussing the proposed Redmond encampment ordinance the city council, the planning commission and/or city staff claimed only churches could host encampment organizers, like SHARE/Wheel.  Is University of Washington and SHARE setting a new precedent?  City council still hasn't voted on the proposed ordinance. Could the City of Redmond now write the permit to allow SHARE encampments at sites other than churches?  For example:  City Hall?  The Downtown Park?   cc:  city council.

UW is making plans to host homeless encampment in 2017
By Jessica Lee
After hundreds of supporters came forward, the University of Washington is moving forward with plans to host a tent city for homeless people on its Seattle campus next year, the school’s president said.

President Ana Mari Cauce, who presented the idea in March, said Wednesday in a message to the UW community the school is working toward obtaining a permit from the city and planning to host the encampment for three months in early 2017.

The decision comes after officials fielded feedback from more than 1,000 people in emails and town-hall meetings, she said.

 “By a 2-to-1 margin, responses and attendees favored hosting,” Cauce said. “Faculty and departments have expressed eagerness to incorporate service learning into curricula, and local elected officials and community leaders also support the effort.”

Stakeholders prefer a parking lot on Northeast Pacific Street, on the west side of campus, Cauce said. Specifics on the plan to host about 100 people are not finalized.

For that space, she said the school is considering hosting the community known as Tent City 3, an authorized encampment operated by the nonprofit Seattle Housing and Resource Effort (SHARE) and its ally organization, WHEEL. That tent city is now at a church across Northeast 45th Street from campus.

“They have literally been across the street from us this spring … providing safe, secure housing to individuals and families,” Cauce said.

SHARE/WHEEL says residents of its spaces must follow a code of conduct that prohibits weapons, violence, drugs and alcohol — a factor Cauce noted in the letter.

According to the region’s annual One Night Count, this year’s estimate of people without shelter showed a 19percent increase over last year, at more than 4,500 people. Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine proclaimed states of emergency over homelessness in November.

In her message, Cauce said concerns and trepidation about the encampment on campus are fair and expected.
“I only ask that we approach hosting with open minds and take this opportunity to learn from the experiences of our neighbors,” she said.


Bob Yoder said...

Councilmember Hank Myers wrote today:

"I do not know of anything in our ordinances that limit encampments to church properties. In the past I proposed an encampment using the great lawn, but lack of showers proved to be the sticking point."

I researched this and found a company that provides trailer with a shower, basin, soap, lighting and grey water treatment/removal.

Besides the great lawn at City Hall, another site is the city parking lot. It provides additional shelter beyond tents and the lot is rarely if ever at capacity.

Mayor John Marchione said...

Dear Bob,
We have considered City Hall and we have dismissed the idea. Like our parks, City Hall campus is access by a variety of users. We would not locate a homeless encampment on the City Hall campus just like we would not locate one in Nike Park.

Also, the City, by policy, does not provide direct social services. We contract out services. The City has not purchased encampment services with its human service funds. We invest in services that work to prevent homelessness or create a pathway out of homelessness.

Bob Yoder said...

Dear Mr. Yoder,

Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts with the City Council. I am responding as the City Council Ombudsperson for June.

The City of Redmond has never stated or taken the position that “only churches” can host temporary encampments. However the fact remains, that “only churches” have CHOSEN to host encampments. If there is another entity or organization that would like to host an encampment within the City of Redmond, they are welcome to apply for the necessary permits and undergo the public process to secure an encampment site.

With regard to the University of Washington, they are making a land use decision on how they wish to use their property that may or may not have to be reviewed by the City of Seattle. Whether this sets a precedent or not, we do not know. Rather than speculate, we recommend you contact the University of Washington directly to obtain an answer to your question.

Bob Yoder said...

My response to Mr. Stilin is:

When the Technical Committee (city staff) report was sent ONLY to St. Jude and Redmond Family Church, the city did indeed "take a position" that ONLY churches can host encampments. Who's to say there might not be other "entities and organizations" that would not want to host encampments? The Technical Committee Report was only sent to churches. The city should have published the Tech. Comm. Report in the Seattle times.

Well, Mr. Myers, you can't say I didn't try.

John Stilin said...

Dear Mr. Yoder,

The churches were proactively notified because they were known to have a critical stake in the matter, as they were the source of the requests to lower permit fees.

In addition, since then we have taken pains to provide broader notice of subsequent council meetings on this topic via our internal email list of Redmond Residents Concerned About Homelessness. I believe you are on that list and receive notices, if not let me know and I will make sure your name is added to the list.

Bob Yoder said...

I personally have taken great pains to encourage broader notice of council meetings on this topic. I am only on the "Redmond Residents Concerned About Homelessness" because I was copied on it from an email. I had to email Colleen Kelly to ask if she would put me on her list. I have only received one update from this internal mailing list and it wasn't about encampments.