Tent City 4 moving back to Issaquah

January 19, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

Tent City 4 will return Jan. 23, when a process choreographed by volunteers will transform the Community Church of Issaquah property into temporary shelter for up 100 homeless people.

Volunteers and residents will lay down pallets and plywood, haul a portable shower and toilets to the campsite, and pitch tents for makeshift residences. The encampment will remain at the church until late April, when Tent City 4 will relocate to another Eastside church. After the encampment takes shape, more volunteers will descend on the site to serve meals and deliver donations.

Before residents arrive at the Issaquah site, however, organizers need donations and volunteers to ensure the encampment can serve the homeless men and women who will seek refuge within the fenced grounds.

“Tent City 4 offers a level of safety that, if you’re out on the street alone, you’re not going to have,” coordinator Paul Winterstein said.

The encampment moves between Eastside churches. Rules limit the camp to adults, and residents leave Tent City 4 during the day for work.

Organizers limit the camp population to people who pass warrant and convicted sex-offender checks.

“The proper types of controls are in place,” said Winterstein, who also serves as the chairman of the city Human Services Commission.

Winterstein, chairman of the Issaquah Sammamish Interfaith Coalition support group, said Tent City 4 organizers work to ensure the residents act as good neighbors. The hosts held meetings last month to answer questions about the encampment; only a handful of residents attended. Organizers also sent more than 100 mailers to church neighbors with information about Tent City 4.

Issaquah officials issued a permit to allow the encampment on the church property, 205 Mountain Park Blvd. S.W., in early January.

Earle Jones, a church member working alongside Tent City 4 coordinators to bring the encampment to Issaquah, said city officials had been helpful as organizers planned for the arrival. Issaquah Police officers attended the community meetings held last month.

The encampment will pull up stakes at First United Methodist Church in Bellevue and relocate to Issaquah early Jan. 23, Issaquah Sammamish Interfaith Coalition Coordinator Elizabeth Maupin said.

SHARE/WHEEL, a Seattle affordable housing and homeless advocacy group, started Tent City 4 in 2004. Community Church of Issaquah last hosted the encampment from August to November 2007. Organizers said the reception the camp received then prompted congregants to invite Tent City 4 to return.

“By and large, I think the congregation is for it,” church member Woody Ross said.

Last-minute needs

-As organizers and residents ready for Tent City 4 to return to Issaquah, coordinators need a few last-minute supplies to ensure the Jan. 23 move-in unfolds smoothly.

Organizers need about 20 volunteers to unload equipment and conduct setup. The work will be physically demanding.

-Coordinators also need twine, 500 feet of quarter-inch nylon rope, 300 feet of quarter-inch hemp rope, two or three pickup trucks to haul supplies, about 80 plastic ponchos and help to set up the Tent City 4 computer network.

-Call Elizabeth Maupin at 313-8937, or e-mail elipeter@juno.com, to assist with setup.

How to help Tent City 4

-Volunteer to prepare and serve meals to the 80 to 100 encampment residents. Organizers need teams with five to eight people. Review the meals calendar at http://prem.calendars.net/ tcmeals and then call Steve Burk at 260-3824, or e-mail TC4meals@gmail.com, to learn more.

-Donate food — coffee, tea, cream, sugar, canned tuna, ham and chicken, peanut butter, chili and soups, canned fruits and vegetables, butter, salt, pepper and spices — or supplies — large-occupancy tents with poles, tarps and rolls, sleeping bags, blankets, mats, flashlights and batteries, hand sanitizer, toiletries and feminine hygiene products. Deliver items to the camp at any time or contact Maupin to learn the latest needs.

-Raise money or donate cash. SHARE/WHEEL, the homeless advocacy group behind Tent City 4, spends more than $4,000 per month on portable toilets, trash removal, bus passes and other necessities. Community Church of Issaquah will incur utilities expenses as well. Call Brian Blank at 206-849-6727, or e-mail brian.blank@protiviti.com to learn more about financial needs.

Who lives at Tent City 4

-Tent City 4 hosts up to 100 adults at a fenced site with 24-hour security. Organizers do not allow children to live at the encampment. Tent City 4 residents leave the camp during the day for work.

-Residents undergo warrant and convicted sex offender checks before they are allowed to enter the camp, and offenders are banned.

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

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