Tent City 3 May Be Coming to University Unitarian Church

UPDATE: The UUC announced that they have “offered Tent City 3 the opportunity to set-up in our (UUC’s) parking lot for three months starting in mid-March 2023.”  See below for the complete text of their announcement.

The University Unitarian Church (UUC) located on 35th Ave NE will be deciding soon whether to host Tent City 3. UUC is actually not located in “Wedgwood,” but is rather part of the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association. However, we recognize that many believe “Wedgwood” extends south of NE 75th Street and realy these weird hyper-local boundaries are beside the point for those interested in UUC and Tent City 3.

Yes, Tent City 3 may be temporarily coming to UUC in Spring 2023 (read more here). No, Tent City 3 is not an encampement like you see in other parts of the city. Tent City 3 is a community of temporarily houseless people who abide by a strict code of conduct, have a leadership organization, and share responsibilities amongst its community. Tent City 3 is organized under a larger collective of sister organization, called SHARE and WHEEL, which collectively provide services, facilities, and temporary shelter for people in need. Whether you’re for, against, or on the proverbial fence on whether UUC’s parking lot is a suitable place for Tent City 3, these are people who respect others and deserve respect. When discussing the pros and cons of having this community temporarily move onto UUC’s parking lot, please remember this. UUC created a FAQ that may answer many of your questions. Tent City has also created its own FAQ.

As UUC is outside of Wedgwood, it is not our position to take a position. On an unrelated note, have you seen our beautiful banners lately?

The following is UUC’s formal anncouncement that they have offered Tent City 3 to use their parking lot in mid-March 2023.

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

University Unitarian Church wishes to announce that we have offered Tent City 3 the opportunity to set-up in our parking lot for three months starting in mid-March 2023. This decision comes after a long process of research and deliberation within our congregation including discussions with other churches who have hosted TC3, with neighbors of those churches, with our own neighbors, and with others working in the field of homelessness in Seattle. We have listened to and heard your concerns as well as your support.

Based on all we have learned in this exhaustive process, we believe that Tent City 3 will continue to serve a critical need within our community and not pose safety issues, increase crime or cause hardship to neighbors. In addition, TC3 participants will have adequate resources, such as hygiene centers and social services, accessible to them in nearby communities.

We will keep you updated in the months ahead. Meanwhile, continue to check our web page, which will be updated soon to reflect this decision and our actions going forward. If you have further questions, please understand that we are a small group of volunteers and may not be able to get back to you right away.

This message is also being sent to the Wedgwood, Ravenna Bryant and View Ridge/Hawthorne Hills Community Council presidents, as well as to Council Member Alex Pederson.

UUC Tent City 3 Team
University Unitarian Church
6556 35th Ave. NE
Seattle, WA 98115

8 Replies to “Tent City 3 May Be Coming to University Unitarian Church”

  1. Thank you for posting this and for encouraging the community to to express their opinion. Sharing a few points with your readers:

    – The plan is to host the tent city for 90 days beginning in 2023. However, tent cities established elsewhere in the region have occasionally remained in operation for as long as a year (e.g., Tent City 4 was hosted by the same Sammamish church from January 2020 through March 2021). Residents of the nearby neighborhood mentioned an increase in sexual harassment incidents, car break-ins, etc. while the encampment was there. And yet, it is now returning to the same location again.

    – Under their proposal, UUC will not allow tent city residents to use the church facilities, but they will be provided port-a-potties and handwashing stations. It is not known where residents would shower or obtain other services.

    1. Interesting note about the Sammamish experience. Sammamish has different rules/laws than the City of Seattle. What I would suggest is looking at the Phinney/Greenwood experience hosting Tent City 3. I would never want to discount someone’s claims of sexual harrassment, but that does not appear to be a shared experience to my knowledge. As to not allowing tent city residents to use their faciliites, this is how Tent City is operated. Other Tent Cities have had showers within the camp.

      1. Thank you for sharing the link. Some UUC members cited the Phinney/Greenwood experience of hosting TC3 as a very positive one. And yet the Q13 story says there were enough neighbors and local businesses who objected to make the local church not extended their stay.

        My takeaway is that different people experienced TC3 in different ways. It could be useful for UUC to review crime and public safety data before making the decision to host. Without this data, we have two conflicting narratives and whichever one chooses to believe is a matter of personal preference.

  2. Tent City 3 was hosted by Maple Leaf Lutheran Church in Meadowbrook about 10 years ago. There was a lot of concern before it went in but it was never really an issue. The worst part was losing the parking at MLLC. They stayed for 3 months and then moved on. I live two blocks from this location and I would wholeheartedly support them returning for another 3 month stay. TC3 has also stayed at my church, University Congregational UCC, and it was a positive experience. Typically, TC3 stays for 3 months and then moves to the next church. Sometimes it is difficult to find a new location and they may stay longer at their current location.

  3. Does anyone remember reading in the newspaper about a woman who was violently attacked by a man in a Ballard car dealership restroom around 2019 (?). The suspect was sentenced three years later around 2021? The man was homeless, had an active warrant, was unemployed, and was living in a city sanctioned homeless encampment – Nickelsville. (Articles from The Seattle Times are on the internet for more information.) Background checks are not foolproof especially with so many unprosecuted crimes. Actually, what is considered a crime in Seattle? How often are background checks done by ShareWheel? A background check that is done yearly may or may not be accurate. It is not that hard to learn about negative experiences from residents in neighborhoods that have had tent cities. It seems like the ShareWheel hosting process is based on good intentions. Good intentions do not keep families safe, protect property, or preserve neighborhoods and parks. The agreement between ShareWheel and the host mainly protects the parking lot and the sidewalk. What additional safety is being offered now to residents beyond the profound failure of the incident referred to above?

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