Tent City 4 will return in January

November 24, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

Homeless encampment last visited Community Church in 2007

Mark Tigues (right) hands a tarp from a moving van down to the Rev. Elizabeth Maupin during the construction of Tent City 4 at Community Church of Issaquah in August 2007. File

Mark Tigues (right) hands a tarp from a moving van down to Elizabeth Maupin during the construction of Tent City 4 at Community Church of Issaquah in August 2007. File

Tent City 4 will return in late January, when the homeless encampment sets up at Community Church of Issaquah.

Organizers announced a plan last week to welcome the encampment from Jan. 23 to April 23 on the Community Church property where the community settled in late 2007. The complex includes up to 100 homeless residents, and moves between Eastside churches. Residents leave the camp for work during the day. Applicants undergo sex offender and warrant checks.

Elizabeth Maupin, coordinator of the Issaquah Sammamish Interfaith Coalition, recalled how Issaquah welcomed the roving camp then — and predicted the community would do so again.

“We anticipate that even in these very difficult times, Tent City 4 will again find that Issaquah is a community of kind, generous people who want to reach out to those in dire straits,” she said.

Tent City 4 will come to Issaquah after a stint at a Bellevue church. Maupin said organizers would secure the necessary city permits in order to host the encampment at Community Church, 205 Mountain Park Blvd. S.W.

The church last hosted Tent City 4 from August to November 2007. When the city permit was issued then, staffers from most city departments had comments. Organizers were required to maintain the site and address security issues.The camp will again be required to adhere to local fire, health and safety codes. Community Church will be responsible for electricity, sanitation and water.

“Staff throughout the city government, from the permit department to the police department were all very helpful, not only as public servants, but as private citizens who collected donations to keep Tent City residents dry, warm and fed,” Maupin said.

Community Church representative Earle Jones joined Maupin to present the Tent City 4 plan to City Council members Nov. 16.

Jones noted how the city supported the church when Tent City 4 last arrived in Issaquah. Because the Community Church congregation is small — with about 50 members, most of whom are seniors — the church will seek help from other churches and civic groups.

Maupin said the interfaith coalition would raise money and organize volunteers to coordinate meals and donations for camp residents.

A committee made up of representatives from churches will organize the Tent City 4 return.

Maupin said the encampment “provides a safe place for people to sleep and keep their belongings as long as they are able to abide by the camp rules.”

When the encampment last set up in Issaquah, the fenced complex included a food service tent, a security tent, community areas and a shower housed in a trailer.

Maupin recalled how Tent City 4 residents volunteered at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery and the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank during the 2007 stop.

“Some found employment that eventually enabled them to move into housing,” she said.

Despite the smooth run the encampment experienced in Issaquah, Tent City 4 has produced opposition and legal battles in other cities. The first Tent City was established in Seattle in 1990.

A group of Mercer Island residents attempted to halt the encampment last summer, but a King County Superior Court judge intervened and allowed the camp to set up at a Mercer Island church. Woodinville officials filed a lawsuit against the encampment related to damages the city said occurred during a 2004 visit.

During the last legislative session, state lawmakers attempted to override local zoning rules and prohibit cities from intervening if a church wanted to host homeless people, but the bill fizzled.

The challenges contrast with the treatment Tent City 4 organizers and residents received in Issaquah. Maupin said business owners welcomed residents, and schools used the encampment as a learning tool for students.

“It was, in fact, such a successful event that I have often been asked by those who got to know the encampment how soon they would return,” Maupin said.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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6 Responses to “Tent City 4 will return in January”

  1. Sex Offender Issues on November 25th, 2009 10:51 am

    http://sexoffenderissues.blogspot.com

    And I noticed you do sex offender and warrant checks.

    I have just one question, “What would Jesus do?”

    You claim to be a church ministry, yet I do not think Jesus would turn ANYBODY a way.

    A majority of sex offenders are trying everything in their power to get on with their lives, yet society continually knocks them back down again, and I find it appauling that a “Church Ministry” is also doing this.

    I thank it’s wonderful to help people in need, but sex offenders are people as well.

    So, are you a true religious person, or a hypocrite? I think the latter.

  2. Ron Carter on November 25th, 2009 2:45 pm

    I agree with the previous. What a bunch of hypocrites. You are part of the reason I hate christians in general.

  3. Anonymous on November 29th, 2009 8:18 pm

    The Issaquah Cooperative Preschool is housed on the campus of the Community Church of Issaquah, and runs almost daily throughout the stay of Tent City. How could they not run sex offender and background checks with preschoolers on site? While I understand that people are trying to get on with their lives, I don’t believe that sex offenders should be welcomed to a place where children could be in danger. That would be irresponsible and naive of community and religious leaders.

  4. Konner Smith on November 29th, 2009 10:11 pm

    The premise here is to ensure the communities that are welcoming these homeless camps into their neighborhoods that these people are not going to negatively impact their neighborhoods. There is most certainly a negative sterotype that surrounds homeless people in general and I think this is a very smart approach to change people’s views and also get them involved in helping some of these people get back on their feel.
    In addition to that, I think people have a right to be concerned about their own safely and above all the safety of their children. The rules associated with sex offenders are put there for a reason and statistics show that most are repeat offenders.
    And as Christians we believe that only God is a perfect being. It is human to have prejudices against those who are different than us. And if you were to claim you didn’t, just by your statement of “i hate Christians in general” you would be calling yourself out.
    Don’t try to ruin other people’s goodwill and kindness towards others. I can assure you that if you were in this position, you would be more than happy to have someone show the same compassion towards you…Christian or not.
    In closing, I would encourage you to get involved and maybe volunteer in working with some of these groups that need help…maybe something to do with sex offenders since you seem to be concerned that they are being overlooked. Once you do, I think all of us would be happy to hear your comments about how you feel about helping others. But if the only thing you have time for is to knock other people down for trying to do something good…how are you not a hypocrite?

  5. Dick Birdsall on December 18th, 2009 11:24 am

    I want to thank you for bringing this issue to our attention so that we might have a better understanding of the policies of TC4. I am the interim minister at the Community Church of Issaquah. The policies are actually established by TC4, not by the church. TC4 does not allow the use of alcohol or drugs, and as I understand it, does not accept anyone who has an outstanding warrant. So there are many guidlines that they have chosen to keep their community safe and secure. Sex offenders are included, but not exclusivly. TC4 has restrictions that seem to work for them. I agree sex offenders are people too and there are programs that offer help to people who are living with that kind of stigma. If TC4 allowed sex offenders or dropped some of the other policies, I cannot think of one community that would give them a permit and it would mean the the homeless program of TC4 would cease to exist. I am under the impression that sex offenders cannot live within a certain distance of schools etc. We have a Co-op preschool on our premisies and the Catholic church across the street houses an elementary school as well. TC4 also has to be concerned about those who live close to their encampment, and try to overcome the stigma often associated with homless people.

    I want to be clear about our stance, everyone is welcome in our church, we are all just trying the best we can to get through this life and we are all novices at it. It is not my role as a minister to stand in judgement on any person, I strive to live out a life of compassion, forgiveness, grace and love, Sometimes I don’t do it very well so I do plead guilty to being a hypocrite. I do not always live up to my expectiations, I know I can do better but like eveyone else from time to time something comes along that hooks me and I fail miserably. Like most people, I can talk a better life than I can live. But the church does not have a corner on hypocracy, it permiates our society. We do not pretend to be perfect or claim that we are, we do stive to be followers of Jesus and try, and sometiemss fail, to live out our mission but we keep on working at it. We all need compassion and forgiveness, we all need acceptance and understanding. I also realize that some people have been damaged by the church, but not all churches are the same, we all need forgiveness.

    I am willing to sit down with anyone so that we might have a better understanding of isssues. I would do that if we could meet as human beings trying to gain understanding, but if you want to meet as adversaries trying to win an argument, I am not interested. What would Jesus do? That is not an easy question to answer. Different churches and different christian people would give you a variety of answers. Somehwere in that answer you would find the words acceptance, grace, love, compassion and forgiveness.

    Thanks again for brining this isssue to our attention. Rev. Dick Birdsall, pastor at Community Church of Issaquah

  6. The Issaquah Press receives more than 25 journalism, service honors : The Issaquah Press – News, Sports, Classifieds in Issaquah, WA on October 2nd, 2010 6:01 am

    […] paper documented the camp from the relocation announcement in November 2009 to the day residents settled at Community Church of Issaquah in January until Tent […]

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