Tent City 4 needs help for Oct. 21 move to Issaquah church

October 18, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

The parking lot at Community Church of Issaquah is due to transform into a campsite for up 100 adults Oct. 21 as Tent City 4 returns.

The camp is scheduled to remain on the site for 90 days through the holiday season. Tent City 4 last settled at the Issaquah church in August 2007 and January 2010.

Organizers said the stagnant economy and tepid real estate market changed the camp’s composition since the initial Issaquah stay.

How to help

Tent City 4 is due to return to Community Church of Issaquah, 205 Mountain Park Blvd. S.W., Oct. 21. Organizers need help to relocate and stock the camp. Learn more at the Tent City 4 website, http://tentcity4.info.

  • Volunteer at Tent City 4 — Organizers need drivers to transport residents from Bellevue to Issaquah during the move starting at 7:30 a.m. and again from noon to late afternoon. Email Jan Bennett at janbennett@juno.com to learn more. The team also needs volunteers to unload trucks starting at about 8 a.m.
  • Prepare and serve a hot meal for residents — Local groups prepare dinner for up to 100 camp residents every day of the week. Check the meals calendar at http://prem.calendars.net/tcmeals and then contact Steve Burk at 260-3824 or email TCmeals@gmail.com.
  • Donate handy packs for residents — Stock toothbrushes, razors, toiletries and other items (a book, for instance) in gift bags for donations.
  • Donate lunch supplies for a quick meal — Most residents do not stay at the camp during the day, so leaving supplies, such as bread, fruit, meats or salads, is welcome for a to-go meal.
  • Donate other food supplies for the camp pantry — Deliver butter, coffee, cream, canned and packaged proteins, canned fruits and vegetables, seasonings and sugar to the camp at any time.
  • Donate tarps and camping supplies — Deliver batteries, blankets, flashlights, poles, ropes, sleeping bags and tents to the camp at any time.
  • Donate toiletries for residents — Tent City 4 dwellers always need toiletries, including hand sanitizer and feminine hygiene products.
  • Make a monetary donation or raise funds — Organizers spend more than $4,000 per month on bus passes, garbage, portable toilets and other camp necessities. Make checks out to “Community Church of Issaquah” and put “Tent City 4” on the memo line. Mail checks to the church. Contact Doug Hart at 392-4125 or hart.douglas@comcast.net to learn more about funding needs.

“The face of homelessness today is different from what it was in 2007,” said Elizabeth Maupin, Issaquah Sammamish Interfaith Coalition leader and a longtime Tent City 4 organizer.

The encampment could encounter more challenges as local and state budget crises deepen. King County leaders said local agencies and organizations need funds to compensate for deep state cuts in recent years.

Meanwhile, organizations such as Tent City 4 supporter SHARE/WHEEL, a Seattle-based affordable housing and homeless advocacy group, face a greater need for services.

“People are choosing Tent City because they can’t get into housing, so there’s still a lot of need for low-cost housing and, for people in Tent City, jobs that pay enough that they can save to get into housing,” Maupin added. “It’s really hard to find work when you don’t have an address.”

Most residents depart the encampment during the day and head to jobs. Maupin said organizers need donations to fund King County Metro Transit bus passes to help camp residents get to work.

“We’ve had no difficulty raising funds for the basics — utilities and that sort of thing,” she said. “The faith community came through in spades on that. Anything we have left over we’re going to dedicate, first of all, to the bus ticket situation, so that while people are in Issaquah they have bus tickets to get to and from their jobs.”

The team responsible for Tent City 4 as the camp for homeless people prepares to relocate to Issaquah continues to line up donations and volunteers as the move approaches.

Tent City 4 is scheduled to relocate to the Squak Mountain church from Temple B’nai Torah in Bellevue. Teams usually conduct the move on a Saturday, but organizers cannot relocate from the synagogue on the Sabbath, so the move shifted to a Friday.

Organizers hosted community meetings for Tent City 4 neighbors, although Maupin said many residents consider the encampment as routine.

“Some of the same questions come up at the community meetings,” she added.

The municipal Permit Center is also accustomed to Tent City 4 after the earlier stints in Issaquah. Staffers prepared a special event permit for the encampment.

“I would say it went faster than the last special event permits because everybody knew what they were doing,” said Sandra Wirth, city permitting and licensing supervisor.

The most common questions from Tent City 4 neighbors address concerns about crime.

The campsite features 24-hour security. Organizers conduct warrant and convicted sex offender checks on potential Tent City 4 residents. The camp bans offenders from the premises. Other rules prohibit alcohol, drugs and guns inside the encampment.

“Now, there are so many people who are familiar with Tent City 4 that it’s harder to get the public’s interest in doing educational events,” Maupin said. “It’s not like it isn’t needed, because there are new people in our community and things have changed.”

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

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2 Responses to “Tent City 4 needs help for Oct. 21 move to Issaquah church”

  1. Jon Dough on October 21st, 2011 9:27 am

    A year ago, I stayed at Tent City 4 for four months. I had lost my job & had many hardships come up at the same time. I became homeless for the first time in my life & was feeling real down & out. It was nice to have a semi-dry place to stay. I am back on my feet now. I have a normal job, bought a car, & now living in a real house. I did meet a few people like myself that had some bad luck & were trying to get back on the saddle. However, the majority of the people there were not. most of them there are professional bums that do not want to work. Most of them are chronic alcohol & drug abusers. Don’t get me wrong, there are some real nice people there that are great full for the help but, the majority is hypocrites & dirt bags that I sure do NOT want in my back yard.

  2. Ibu Oni on October 22nd, 2011 10:39 am

    The way I read it is that when you lost everything, you had NO family or friends willing to help you out and let you stay with them for a few months (obviously they knew that you had no sense of gratitude). Thankfully, the “professional bums”, “alcoholics” and drug users took you in when no one wanted anything to do with you and gave you a safe place to stay while you got back on your feet. If TC4 had not been there for you, the alternative would have been???

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