What is Tent City 4?
Tent City 4 is a community of homeless people, joining together to solve the shared problem of having no place to stay, as well as to provide safety in numbers. The camp has been in existence since 2004, and camp members consider themselves a family and are protective of one another. Currently about 20 people make up TC4, and the community will not exceed 30 people while staying at Faith Church. They will set up camp in the upper parking lot of the church, and Faith will provide electricity and utilities, as well as daytime use of the Annex in the event of inclement weather.
Why would Faith Church host a homeless encampment?
Faith Church is motivated by our faith to do what we can to provide for the poor and lift up the downtrodden as Jesus taught us to do. Not only do we have the space and resources to support the safety of 20 people, we are also currently not allowed to use our building for our regular worship services and programs. In addition, we have been developing a relationship with TC4 for several years now, providing meals and welcoming them to special events on campus. Our congregation feels an affinity with TC4 and supports the decision to host them.
Is it safe for us to have a homeless encampment on church property and in the neighborhood?
Yes. The last time TC4 stayed at Faith Church, there were no incidents with any of the residents that threatened anyone's safety. Similarly, their recent hosts at Mary, Queen of Peace have had no safety issues. In addition, there are currently no regular church or community gatherings on our campus due to the pandemic safety protocols of Faith Church and the PNW Conference of the UMC. In the Beginning Preschool is operating remotely, worship services and Christian education classes are online, and community groups such as scouting groups are remote, as well. Thus, TC4 will not be sharing the campus with other groups at this time, though Faith Church volunteers will monitor and support TC4's operations.
What is Faith Church's policy for ensuring good behavior from TC4 residents? What would cause Faith to evict the encampment?
TC4 operates by a strict Code of Conduct, so generally the residents police themselves. Any actions taken by Faith Church will be commensurate with the seriousness of an offense, and we will work with the TC4 leadership to determine an appropriate course of action. Any incident involving felony charges would most likely involve the eviction of TC4 from our property. At a minimum, those involved would be asked to leave TC4.
There are three general categories which would cause Faith to evict TC4 from its property:
- Ongoing or pervasive illicit narcotics use within the encampment
- Any incident of harassment or misconduct between a member of the TC4 community and a staff member of ITBP or Faith Church.
- Any incident of misconduct, no matter how minor, involving a TC4 resident and a child.
Will residents be allowed to smoke on the property? What about marijuana? Is alcohol allowed in TC4?
TC4 residents will be allowed to smoke tobacco in designated areas on our property, following the county guidelines for proximity to buildings. Every effort will be made to mitigate the effects of tobacco smoke on neighboring properties. Marijuana and alcohol are not allowed on church property.
How many residents will there be in TC4?
Faith Church will cap the number of residents at 30 while they are staying with us.
Is there a financial incentive for hosting TC4?
No. On the contrary, Faith Church pays the cost of the permit and will supply water and power to the encampment.
Why did we not have more notice?
In mid-September Faith Church sent letters to the households within 500ft of our property line, informing them of our intent to host TC4 and inviting them to an online community meeting on October 1—according to instructions from the Sammamish City Council. Only two of these neighbors chose to attend the meeting, and they asked good questions. We took the low attendance and lack of public comment at the subsequent October 6 council meeting as a sign that most neighbors had no objections to Faith Church hosting TC4.
What we didn't know at the time was that the City of Sammamish was going to send their own letters to households within 1000ft of the Faith Church's property line and open another 2-week window for public comment. Faith Church did not know that this would be a requirement, or we would have included these neighbors in our initial notification and invited them to the October 1 community meeting. As of November 2, we are still awaiting permit approval from the City of Sammamish.