Saturday, February 7, 2015

Tent City 3: Homelessness At Our Door

When I first heard the name Tent City 3.. a lot of different things ran through my mind. What is tent city, why are they coming to my school, and how will this impact me?

All of these thoughts we a bit selfish and now that I know more about Tent city and the people who live there I have to say it has been one of the best experiences in my life. 
If you have read my previous post on my personal life, then you know that I too have been homeless and know the struggle of getting back on ones feet. 

Tent City 3 is a self managed homeless shelter where the rules are created by Share and Enforced by the members/residents of Tent City. 

Now before I get into what I have come to learn about Tent City let me give you a bit of background on who they are and why they are here. 

 Tent city is a transitional encampment that moves every three months to a new location, mostly hosted by church's or on private property. Tent City 3 was facing one of the most difficult dilemmas a shelter could face, they had no where to go and faced being disbanded for the next three months while they tired to find a place to host them. 

When Seattle Pacific University heard about this dilemma, We graciously open not only our arms but also our front door.  
Tent City 3 now resides on the main lawn on the north side of Tiffany Loop. 

During the few months before Tent City moved on to our front door, there had been a lot controversy over the location of where Tent City 3 would reside. Many people in the Fremont and Queen Ann area were against hosting the housing community that caters to the homeless. Sadly most people where against because they were naive and closed minded to what Tent City really is and how it can truly benefit the community. 

Tent City is a branch of the  Seattle Housing And Resource Effort, more commonly known as SHARE and is also a partner of WHEEL: Women's Housing Equality and Enhancement League.
Which are organizations of Homeless and formerly homeless members. 

SHARE/WHEEL is King County's largest shelter network, hosting 15 indoor shelters and 2 Tent Cities.  In addition to the shelters and tent cities they also facilitate Storage locker program and Housing for work program. Tent city currently caters to about 100 homeless people and provides them with shelter for as long as need, as long as they commit to the rules laid out by SHARE. 

So now you know who and what Tent City is, but if you haven't seen it for your self you are missing out.  SPU's Motto/Mantra is Engaging the Culture and Changing the World and it has never been more true than now. 

Hosting Tent City is more than just giving a 100 people a place to lay their heads at night. It is a learning opportunity, a way to serve the community and way to learn about how bad homelessness really is in Seattle. 

During my visit to Tent City I learned that they live by strict guide lines,The Tent City Code of Conduct prohibits  alcohol, drugs, weapons, fighting, abuse of any kind, littering or disturbing neighbors. 

All residents must sign an agreement to abide by this code and failure to do so can be cause for immediate expulsion. Residents form an Executive Committee that is responsible for site security, resident identification and donations management. 
One member of the Executive Committee is on duty, awake and available 24 hours per day. Police are contacted immediately if warranted by a situation.

The Tent City application states that Tent City residents are required to have valid picture identification with all prospective residents checked for warrants and sex offender status by the King County Sheriff’s Department. 

Tent City states that people with active warrants are not allowed to stay at Tent City. Tent City also reports that Police will be notified immediately of anyone rejected due to warrant status or that has registered sex offender status.

These rules are strictly enforced by the self governed residents, if anyone fails to follow the code of conduct they are kicked out and not allowed to return. However they can find shelter in any of the other SHARE programs, if they haven't been kicked out those shelters previously. 

Now you may be a bit confused on how Tent city is putting and end to homelessness, and honestly so was I. Which why I went in for a tour, this is what I learned. 

First off let me rid your mind of the fact that all homeless people are homeless due to drug or alcohol abuse. Every single resident of Tent city is completely clean and sober. 

Some of the residents of tent city are there because they were laid off and lost their house when they couldn't make ends meet. Some are there because they fell on hard times, or they were sick and couldn't work and ended up losing everything. These people are choosing to get out of the endless cycle of being homeless. Many of the formerly homeless return to tent city, not as residents, but as volunteers. 
All the people who reside in Tent city have the option to work for tent city, they are paid minimum wage to preform duties such as, being on night patrol, being a security guard, cooking meals, vehicle maintenance, grant writing.. and many other things. Other residents are able to find work outside of tent city. Since Tent City gives them a valid address they can apply for jobs and other things like ID Cards aiding in the process of finding a job. 

Residents of Tent city eat One hot meal a day, provided by volunteers throughout the community. 

Other meals are prepared by residents, with food that is provided by donations of local grocery stores. Currently Tent city only has a coffee pot and microwave. They have no refrigerator but have a few coolers to store food in. Tent City needs your help, If you can donate anything at all that would be amazing, 

Follow this link to see what Tent City 3  is in need of!

Tent city is a much needed but temporary resource in the battle to end Homelessness.  

Each year people come together and volunteer to count the Homeless. 

Its called One Night Count
"The One Night Count sets in motion a full year of education, engagement, and action for Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness ("the Coalition"). We work throughout the year to make sure that every person who is homeless counts."
Last years Count:

Now in 2015 these numbers have risen by 21% with an average 3772 people going to sleep each night on the streets of Seattle. 

If You would like to know how you can get Involved to End Homelessness
Visit these links

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