1:30 PM: After a reader tip about what appeared to be a tent encampment setting up along Myers Way – near where other campers have been living on slopes and in RVs – we went over to check it out, and that’s exactly what we found. It’s being set up in a fenced area immediately south of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints building; we haven’t figured out yet who owns the land, nor did the person we spoke with know. (The church owns 2 1/2 acres, and property boundaries aren’t obvious; online records show a small streetfront parcel south of the church is owned by a dump-truck company.) He identified it as the “Second Chance” camp, with 25 residents, a self-policing camp with strict no-drugs/alcohol/violence policies.
Since visiting the site less than an hour ago, we’ve done some online research, and it appears this is “Camp Second Chance Through Grace,” listed on this citywide clearinghouse website as having had a sanctioned site at a church a few miles south for the past three months. Another page on the same site says CSCTG is a “family camp.” It is still in the process of setting up, and only a few people, all appearing to be adults, were in view.
P.S. Elsewhere on Myers Way, we observed that RVs are no longer parked in the area outside the gates to the city-owned land on the west side of the street; we counted about half a dozen parked on both sides of the street to the north. The area by the gates had been a “staging area” for some RV campers that were expected to move to a “safe lot” in Highland Park but the city scrapped the idea before it ever opened.
4:55 PM: After commenter Ben questioned whether this was indeed “Camp Second Chance,” we went to the church listed as the camp’s home until today, where we verified that encampment had indeed moved out today, and headed to a site on Myers Way.
ADDED TUESDAY MORNING: We e-mailed the address listed on the Greater Seattle Cares website to try to find out more; here’s the reply we received this morning from Polly Trout, executive director of Patacara Community Services:
Camp Second Chance is currently in dire need of a new site. As of July 18, they are temporarily located at 9502 Myers Way South, Seattle WA 98106. This parcel is privately owned and right next to the Myers Parcels, unused City of Seattle property. The camp is working very hard to find a better solution. Most likely, a city eviction notice will be issued today and the camp will have 72 hours to move or be swept.
The camp has been self-governing since April, when the founding members left Tent City 3 in order to create an independent camp more aligned with their needs and values. I have been providing supportive services to the camp for the last two months and have gotten to know them well. This is a model encampment with excellent and ethical leadership. The camp is clean, quiet, drug and alcohol free, and well managed. The community works cooperatively as a team to solve problems and meet the needs of the campers. They have a democratic governing process and an outstanding core leadership committee.
Currently, the camp has 25 members, but would like to increase to 40 if possible. They need to be located on a bus line and have access to water. My nonprofit, Patacara Community Services, is committed to providing the camp with Honeybucket services. Ideally, the camp would be able to plug into the church’s electrical power to run the camp refrigerator. If they do not have power access, they do have a generator. They also will need trash removal, and we can work with the church to find a solution that is economical. If your church has the room to host but is on a tight budget, the camp can contribute to your utilities bills for the duration of their stay. They collect dues from participants to cover basic expenses, and my nonprofit also fundraises donations for them.
The camp members are a mixture of families and single people. Most are working; some are disabled, parenting, retired, or looking for work. They are receiving supportive services and wait listed for housing.
The camp needs at least 7,000 square feet to function properly, and 10,000 is better. If your church wants to help but doesn’t have the space, and private land can be used. The land owner can legally lease the land to your church for a dollar and then the religious encampment laws extend to that land and allow you to host an encampment on the land. So if anyone in your congregation has unused property on a bus route with water access, that land can be used. If your church or a private landowner wants to help but can’t afford to, we can fundraise for rent.
A policy brief about why encampments are necessary, written by Seattle University’s Homeless Rights Advocacy Project, can be viewed here: https://law.seattleu.edu/centers-and-institutes/korematsu-center/initiatives/homeless-rights-advocacy-project
The Washington State law concerning the right of religious groups to host encampments can be viewed here: http://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=36.01.290
Patacara Community Services is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit; our EIN number is 46-3744862. Our mission is to provide services to those who are suffering, and our current programming focuses on offering respectful and compassionate service to those suffering from homelessness and poverty in King County, Washington.