[Hpn] Tent City 4 site a surprise for church's neighborhood

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Tue, 15 Feb 2005 06:49:34 -0500

 Tent City 4 site a surprise for church's neighborhood

 Full story:

 By Rachel Tuinstra

 Seattle Times Eastside bureau

 Dan Ross said he was surprised to learn yesterday that starting Saturday,
his Kirkland home with a Lake Washington view will also overlook Tent City

 That's the day the controversial Eastside homeless encampment and its 50 or
so residents will pick up and move from its current site outside of town on
Finn Hill to its new location  in downtown Kirkland's lap.

 "It's surprising it came up so quick," said Ross. "I'm going to watch and
see what happens. I have an open mind. I'm going to give it a chance."

 After scouring the Eastside for potential sites, and with less than a week
before it had to move, Tent City 4 found itself with two invitations from
Eastside churches on Sunday. Residents voted Sunday evening to accept the
invitation from Kirkland Congregational United Church of Christ,  at 106
Fifth Ave., across the street from Kirkland City Hall and the Kirkland
Police Department. The roving village will occupy the church's 40-space
parking lot.

 Yesterday, tent-city residents passed out informational fliers to residents
near the church.  The church will hold a community meeting from 7 to 9 p.m.

 "I think, in general, the Kirkland community is tolerant and understanding
and is a loving community," said the Rev. Walter John Boris, pastor of
Kirkland Congregational.

 "We expect them to welcome tent city with open arms."

 The Kirkland Congregational building is also used by five other
congregations and more than 55 other organizations, including drug- and
alcohol-recovery programs and community-service organizations, Boris said.
Church members will use the City Hall parking lot while the church lot is
used by the tent city, Boris said.

 Still, some residents expressed concern about the encampment moving in,
especially with such short notice.

 "I understand their plight. I know they need help," said Paul Angell, who
lives near the church. "But I don't think these are homeless people from
Kirkland. If they are from Seattle, I think Seattle should take care of its

 Kirkland Mayor Mary-Alyce Burleigh said the city set up a tent-city task
force several months ago because it knew the camp might one day move into

 City officials began meeting Friday when they became aware that nearby
churches were considering hosting the tent city, Burleigh said. Kirkland
Congregational plans to apply for permits this week, and the city will
continue to process the applications after the camp moves in, she said.

 "I'm hoping this experience brings out the best in us," Burleigh said. "My
personal feeling is that the community has the responsibility to take care
of those in need."

 Tent City 4, which is now at St. John Mary Vianney Catholic Church, also
received an invitation from Woodinville Universalist Unitarian Church but
chose Kirkland Congregational because of its proximity to bus routes and
city services, said Don Goodwin, a Tent City 4 resident.

 But the tent-city residents may keep talking to the leaders at Woodinville
Universalist and consider moving there in the future, Goodwin said.

 Rachel Tuinstra: 206-515-5637 or rtuinstra@seattletimes.com