Since writing this piece it appears the screening around the tent is partially removed from the tents. I saw Dan in his orange vest walking the sidewalk picking up litter so his job is more than security.
I live only a quarter mile from the St. Jude homeless encampment and walk by there often. Where are all the tents? The western parking lot is almost empty and in years past the lot was always full. What's going on? Aren't we in a crisis?
With mild trepidation, I approached Dan, an encampment resident to try to understand the dearth of tents. Dan is a nice guy and articulate and very graciously offered to give me a tour of the facility.
|Dan wears a City of Redmond safety vest|
while on security duty.
Dan said the corrupt Camp Unity board was purged last year and their new leadership is running a very tight ship. Once the "applicants" pass a warrant check, breathalyzer, and upon presenting an I.D. they are registered and can move in. Camp Unity charges them $30/month in dues. It almost seems like a club. If you don't have the money they'll take cashed-in food stamps.
Dan emphasized the "crazies" and the drug infested homeless live in Bellevue's "low barrier" encampment where they'll take anyone. He was little concerned about heroin.
For job and other personal assistance a case worker visits the encampment. The camp (village) is on a bus line and residents have bikes to get to employers. Dan bikes down to the library. Recently a church donated a large van. I asked if the van could transport residents to Home Depot to find day labor; Dan thought long and hard but didn't respond. If you listen to the YouTube clip, the need of WiFi for jobs and affordable housing is a high priority over community supplied food, blankets and clothing.
Bob Yoder, opinion
St. Jude hosts a car camp in the parking lot next to Camp Unity. According to Dan, about 4-12 cars are parked there at night and the parish runs this camp. Dinner is served inside every evening for all the homeless on site.