November 28, 2012
Vol: 19 No: 48


Disagreement over background checks in homeless encampment

By Aaron Burkhalter / Staff Reporter

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Some residents of Tent City 4 have split off to start a new outdoor shelter program. The split happened after the organizers of Tent City 4, who are camping this month at St. John Vianney in Kirkland, discovered that a resident was a suspect in a child rape and molestation case in Tacoma. Police arrested the suspect, but the church asked that residents at the camp conduct more frequent background checks to ensure that there are no sex offenders on site.

Residents of the camp said they wanted to do the additional checks, but a representative from the nonprofit Seattle Housing and Resource Effort (SHARE) said the residents hadn’t followed the right process to make changes at the camp.

In protest, about 60 campers moved out, forming a new group, Camp Unity. Members of Camp Unity say they will operate like Tent City 4 but have more frequent background checks. They are staying at Lake Washington United Methodist Church in Kirkland until they acquire equipment for an independent emergency shelter.

In a statement, Camp Unity residents said the weekly checks are necessary to maintain a good relationship with the camp’s neighbors.

About 20 people remained at Tent City 4 after the Camp Unity faction seceded. Tent City 4 elected new leadership and will remain at St. John Vianney. The church has requested an official meeting with SHARE, which operates Tent City 3 and Tent City 4.



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