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.
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.