Fauntleroy Church talks about possibly helping Tent City 3

This is a sensitive issue, obvious since we first heard about it Wednesday. Within the span of a few hours, we received several notes from WSB readers asking if we had heard a rumor about Tent City 3, the rotating-site church-sponsored homeless camp, possibly coming to Fauntleroy Church (UCC) later this year. Our first stage of research quickly turned up a mention on the church website, saying that it was under discussion. Knowing the movements of other Tent City camps have led to community concern and questions elsewhere around Western Washington, we decided to seek comment and context rather than just slapping something up here on WSB. We left messages Wednesday afternoon for leaders at Fauntleroy Church, and also contacted the Church Council of Greater Seattle. While the Church Council did respond to our queries and after some discussion ultimately decided to take an official “no comment” position, we still have not heard back from Fauntleroy Church. Yet this is clearly being talked about in the community — yet more local residents have contacted us to inquire; one has forwarded a letter that the church-based Little Pilgrim preschool has sent to its families; another has forwarded a letter that was sent to the church on behalf of concerned neighbors. So in hopes of helping calm rumors, we want to share what we have found out so far:

First, background on what Tent City 3 is. As this site explains, it is a temporary encampment of up to 100 homeless people, set up at officially hosted sites for up to three months. Tent City 3 is one of two tent cities currently rotating around the area; it generally is hosted by sites on the west side of Lake Washington, while Tent City 4 moves around the Eastside.

Tent City 3 moved last month to a Tukwila church, according to this P-I article about local churches’ work on the homelessness issue. Its history is fairly well-documented online, including this site about its time at Seattle University in 2005. Some of the most interesting reading is on blogs, such as Street Stories, kept by a pastor who bills himself as “minister to the homeless.”

Since its location rotates, Tent City 3 will need somewhere to move next.

Though we have never attended services there, we know from reading about it that Fauntleroy UCC is a church whose members are committed to issues of social justice and compassion, as part of their Christian faith. A bulletin from last June mentions some volunteer work done with Tent City 3 at the site where it was located in mid-June, noting poignantly that Tent City 3 residents explained that they have the hardest time finding a church to take them in during the holiest times of the Christian year. Here’s the excerpt from that bulletin:

“On Homelessness Sunday, June 3, Larry, Donna and Katie Pierce delivered 231 D batteries donated by our church to 88 Tent City 3 residents now living in a vacant lot owned by Cherry Hill Baptist Church. Fauntleroy also raised over $500 through our special offering. Zack Hill calculated that with the discount that SHARE gets from Metro, $500 will purchase nearly 1,700 bus tickets for Tent City 3 residents. (Each resident receives two tickets a day.) Thank you, Fauntleroy Church! Taking refuge from the hot sun under a canopy, we sat on rickety metal chairs at a card table that had seen better days and talked for an hour with our tour guides at the encampment, Lance, Steve, and Mason. They told us that on average, 70% of TC residents are employed, but they earn insufficient wages to obtain more permanent housing. … Our hosts agreed that safety and community were also key reasons why they live at TC. They take pride in leaving an encampment area cleaner than when
they arrive, and they help police the surrounding streets to keep drug dealers and other criminals away from the neighborhood. Although they are grateful to the churches who host them, they quietly expressed irony that Christmas and Easter are the two times each year it’s hardest to find a welcoming church.”

Since Fauntleroy UCC is not commenting at this point, we do not know any other backstory for their exploration of possibly hosting Tent City 3. Here is the entirety of what was mentioned in last Sunday’s church bulletin:

“The regular meeting of the Church Council on September 25 was filled with important conversations and decisions. … After a thorough conversation with guests from Tent City 3, authorized Donna Pierce, Outreach Ministry chair, to strategize a way for the congregation to engage the issue of homelessness and whether or not to invite tent city to use our parking lot.”

We are also told that the matter came up at this past week’s Fauntleroy Community Association meeting, the day before we started getting questions from people in the surrounding community. And one concerned neighbor forwarded us e-mail that the church’s Little Pilgrim preschool sent to families, which said in part:

“As you may have heard, the folks who organize Tent City 3 in the Seattle area have approached the Fauntleroy Church Council with a request to host their group here at Fauntleroy in the upper parking lots. Let me assure you, nothing has been decided. One informal congregational meeting was held. Information was shared and there were different points of view expressed. Now the council is considering whether to proceed and if so, how. The Church has not had adequate time to discuss this matter internally. We can assure you, however, that before a decision to host Tent City 3 is made, the views of neighbors and service providers in the neighborhood will be actively solicited.”

So that’s where this stands, as far as we have been able to find out: a very tentative stage of discussion inside the church, while questions and concern bubble outside, such as those expressed in a letter from one group of neighbors, sent to Fauntleroy Church’s pastor David Kratz, asking him flatly to not allow Tent City 3 on church property. We are looking into the issues raised in that letter while also waiting to hear what statement Fauntleroy Church will choose to make to the community, to calm fears and show neighbors why a gesture like this might do far more good than harm, as the church seeks to fulfill its goals, which include: “Create a culture of service so that we can compassionately respond to human need inside and outside our church..”

49 Replies to "Fauntleroy Church talks about possibly helping Tent City 3"

  • LS October 13, 2007 (12:14 am)

    So, any bets on when Mars Hill will step up to help the homeless? Oh right, they’re too busy buying nightclubs and plasma televisions.

  • A October 13, 2007 (4:54 am)

    I work out at the YMCA in this church and would love to see them host. In 2005, I brought a group of adult students on a tour of Tent City 3 at Seattle University. We met and interviewed many of the residents. I felt safe there and they do have a lot of rules that make this camp work for the residents in the area. I would like to welcome them to West Seattle because I believe in social justice. It is sometimes nice to walk the walk instead of talk the talk. I’m sure people who have actually visited a Tent City in action have in large part had positive experiences.

  • pam October 13, 2007 (7:25 am)

    I lived just a few blocks from Tent City when it was on Cap Hill last (before I moved to splendid Gatewood) and while I noticed that there were a lot of different people walking past my place (it was on the way to the supermarket from Tent City), there was little else to mention or note from the Tent City stint. They had a number of neighborhood open house events which I was never able to attend and regret not being able to do so as it would have given me the opportunity to meet my short term neighbors.

  • CandrewB October 13, 2007 (8:50 am)

    Are they going to use the parking lot to the Y?

  • Bubba October 13, 2007 (9:04 am)

    Anybody gonna submit a EIS (environmental impact statement) for Fauntlaroy Creek and Park?

  • Radley October 13, 2007 (9:41 am)

    I know that Tent City tries to locate near services that are within walking distance. The closest services would be Westwood Village for shopping, and White Center for community support services, which doesn’t seem all that close.

  • Fauntleroy neighbor October 13, 2007 (10:21 am)

    I live one block away from the parking lot. I think it is great that the church is exploring a potential stay. I will welcome them to my neighborhood.
    Westwood Village is close enough for the shopping needed. Compare that distance to the distance from St. Marks Cathedral to Broadway grocery stores when they had a tent city up on north Capitol Hill.

  • IsleWrite October 13, 2007 (10:25 am)

    I think it would be fine, since Tent City has oversight and a pre-arranged endpoint. Compare this to an informal “tent city” (i.e. “sleeping in the basement”) scenario that was going on for years at the Nazarene church at 42nd and Juneau. Horrible neighborhood problems. (Care for a little pee, poo, and prostitution in your yard?) Weapons, fights, alcohol. When pressure was finally applied at the regional level for the church to get a handle on the situation, I think they brought in a new minister who is running a tighter ship.

  • thinking October 13, 2007 (11:12 am)

    My only concern is of the children who attend school there. And not because the resedents are considered homeless but more so because of any past criminal records. I’m asuming that the church will consider this and act accordingly.

  • B October 13, 2007 (12:51 pm)

    I worry about the children going to the preschool also. What about the parking for the Y? It’s not a very big parking lot(s).

  • Scooter October 13, 2007 (1:57 pm)

    I believe it is West Seattle’s turn to step up to share it’s bounty with the homeless. Good for the church at Fauntleroy for taking on the challenge. I look forward to meeting and shopping with my new neighbors.

  • Dj Mike October 13, 2007 (3:55 pm)

    Let’s bring the homeless into West Seattle. I’m all for it. I think they should use the lot across the Rocksport as a camping ground.

  • Bubba October 13, 2007 (5:53 pm)

    So a 100 unit development constructed on top of a rehabed urban salmon stream needs no environmental considerations? Omni will be happy to hear that.

  • flipjack October 13, 2007 (6:45 pm)

    I think they should use Rocksport itself. Use that space for something useful!

  • katydid October 13, 2007 (7:05 pm)

    I would be proud to know that a tent city site was located in my neighborhood. It’s about time WS stepped up to the plate. As far as the preschool kids; and the “Y” parking concerns – the area will be constantly policed by the tent city residents and the “Y” people ought to be able to handle a little inconvenience and park a little further away. It’s exercise, remember.

  • thinking October 13, 2007 (10:15 pm)

    I agree with all of whom welcome tent city to west seattle. And great point about the parking and how a little inconvenience should be no big deal for those who are health conscience. I trust that David Kratz and the congragation will do what is best.

  • Think about it October 13, 2007 (10:22 pm)

    The proposal is wonderful and flowery if you are not one of the many residents and businesses surrounding the church that will bear the impact and long term consequences of such action. We are a group of socially responsible citizens – many volunteer a substantial amount of time and money to assist various organizations that create better lives for people. We have compassion for the homeless and gladly give of ourselves to assist them in a variety of ways. The damage to the surrounding community and park would be substantial. The information publicized by the tent city organizers at meetings and on websites is far from accurate. Please take a moment to review the verifiable data on http://www.tentcitysolutions.com before you make a decision on this topic. There is a substantial rise in crime, property damage, environmental damage, litter, human waste, alcohol and drug debris, disturbances, etc.. Please take a minute to do a bit of research before bringing these issues into our homes and businesses. There are so many ways to truly help these people without damaging others in the process. I would challenge the dedicated church members to invite homeless families into their own homes, find them jobs and make a REAL difference in their lives rather than tossing them out on a slab of cold concrete in a corner of their parking lot and patting themselves on the back for their “generousity”.

  • Dis October 13, 2007 (11:35 pm)

    it’s like, I love to help the homeless, but not in my backyard…. or, I am committed to ending poverty, but I don’t want to see the faces of the poor.

  • Kayleigh October 14, 2007 (6:49 am)

    I work in this arena and here is my perspective:

    1. Tent City is a weak temporary bandaid on a complex problem and does not offer long-term sustainable supportive housing.

    2. Do not bring a homeless person into your home. Don’t bring anyone you don’t know into your home.

    3. If your heart is in this issue, I’d encourage you to support the wonderful programs we have here that have a positive impact: Fare Start, Real Change, DESC, food banks, job training programs, Stand Up for Kids, etc. And above all, support affordable housing, not cheapo condo conversions and $700,000 “bungalows”.

  • The House October 14, 2007 (9:18 am)

    I can’t wait to welcome these low self esteem, underachieving, nomadic, potentially criminal, potentially erratic, jerkoffs into my neighborhood.

    I’m sure that when folks looking to move into the neighborhood will want to pay more money to live near Tent City and that parents/children will want to play near “Tent City” because of it’s “secure” nature.

    Please come to West Seattle so that we all can easily explain to our children what not to become in life.

    I hear that there is some nice property near Hanford that would be perfect to house Tent City.

  • thinking about it more October 14, 2007 (9:59 am)

    I’m all for helping the homeless and the problem is not ‘not in my backyard’ but I’m thinking of the real problems this could pose. There are lots of children being dropped off for preschool at the preschool and across the street is the Fauntleroy Children’s Center. What about all the people who have their weddings planned at the church? It’s not an easy church to get into and they charge a pretty penny for the weddings. How would you feel if you had a wedding planned a year in advance only to find out a tent city was going to be in the parking lot?

    How many people are they talking about? I can’t imagine very many being able to fit into those 2 upper parking lots. They are pretty small.

    Also, what about illegal activity in Fauntleroy Park? It’s dark in there and who knows what could be going on there.

    Basically, I’m not wanting to tell these people ‘we don’t want you here’ but I’m just still thinking about it. If I had a child who went to the preschool or the children’s center I would think twice about sending him/her.

  • Radley October 14, 2007 (10:40 am)

    I am a resident surrounding the church and I am fine with this, My concern was access to services for the residents, but apparently the walk/bus to Westwood Village White Center is minimal compared to other cites. I say that it is time for the commiunity to walk the talk.

  • West Seattle Resident October 14, 2007 (10:42 am)

    Homeless people are one’s who don’t want to pay rent and be like us normal people like me who have to go out and work for a living. They choose to be homeless and majority of them are abusers of some type of substance. They put themselves in that position not me. I work my bones off to pay my rent. I don’t want WS to become a haven for them. Its bad enough as it is already seeing panhandlers ad drunks cruisng WS. I will do whatever it takes to have them not inhabit WS.

  • Wheels October 14, 2007 (11:42 am)

    I’m sorry, but I don’t want a Tent City anywhere near West Seattle. I just don’t agree that I need to “step up” and welcome people to live on the street in my neighborhood. The above comment about organizations that you can support that have actual programs makes sense, not inviting a bunch of homeless people here. Call me bigoted if you want, but I’ve got a 18-month old kid and a tent city is not on the list of things I want him around.

  • flipjack October 14, 2007 (1:58 pm)

    Wow, I hope the “holier than thou” judgemental people who have posted their opinions never find themselves down and out and in need. I hope they have some magical safety net to catch them if they fall, since this society barely provides many that allows your dignity to remain intact. Not mentioning any names House, but I hope the city tows your car.

  • censored October 14, 2007 (2:17 pm)

    At this point, I am ashamed to admit my association with the church and their manner of handling this issue. The discussion and plans have been in the works for some time with a “don’t tell anyone” and a “we can do whatever we want” approach and a lack general of concern for others that may be affected. Please know that not everyone at the church has been supporting the process and that there are good and concerned people whose voices simply are not being heard.

  • Alki resident October 14, 2007 (2:58 pm)

    No homeless in WS please!! I work too hard to live were I am and don’t want to see tents.

  • WSB October 14, 2007 (4:04 pm)

    “censored,” thanks for your note in particular (and of course thank you to everyone for their comments). As we wrote in our original post, we really did take the time and trouble to solicit comment and seek more context before posting about this — thanks again in particular to Church Council of Greater Seattle leader Rev. Sandy Brown for answering our original note and doing some checking — we still hope that we will eventually hear some sort of public statement from Fauntleroy Church leaders — when it comes to matters involving important institutions (churches, governments, schools, etc.), less public information is seldom better than more public information.

  • Erik October 14, 2007 (4:37 pm)

    a “don’t tell anyone” and a “we can do whatever we want” approach and a lack general of concern for others that may be affected…..
    hmmm…sounds like the church stole that idea from the white house.

  • Bonnie October 14, 2007 (5:14 pm)

    I just returned from the Fauntleroy Fall Festival and was told that they have decided NOT to host the tent city. There was a meeting this morning where it was decided.

  • Jan October 14, 2007 (5:27 pm)


  • Kayleigh October 14, 2007 (6:38 pm)

    Since the ignorance of a couple of these posts is so striking…some facts from here in King County where they are trying to END homelessness:


    “More than a quarter of the individuals living in shelters and transitional housing are children under 18.”

    I didn’t realize that 5-year olds had self-esteem and motivation problems. They oughta get a job.

    And those women who are homeless because they left a domestic violence situation…sheesh, what a bunch of losers….

    Oh, and the mentally ill–now there’s a shiftless group….

    You know, poverty has a way of begetting poverty, just as wealth creates wealth. The poverty cycle is very hard to break. And now, thanks to Bush et al,the deck is stacked even more against the poor and middle class.

    Thanks to those of you who at least expressed compassion. You give me hope.

  • The House October 14, 2007 (7:06 pm)

    Flipjack, that’s the most useless thing I’ve ever heard. You disagree with me, so you want my car towed.

    Well, let me stoop down to your level….I hope you become homeless. I’ve got a nice, large box for you to use when you’re ready.

    Now I’ll resume being halfway intelligent.

  • Think about it October 14, 2007 (7:37 pm)

    Detailed website with information about Tent City’s history:


  • Alki resident October 14, 2007 (7:59 pm)

    Put them in you yard but not mine..

  • bde October 14, 2007 (8:54 pm)

    Let the conregation of the Fauntleroy Church each host a homeless person (or two) in one of their nice warm bedrooms at their own house if they want to but I don’t want them wondering around our neighborhood.

  • Jan October 14, 2007 (10:28 pm)

    House…this would not have impacted me in any way…so I have refrained from saying anything…but…what you are saying here in your comments has nothing to do with intelligence…it’s purely emotional, and what you believe is true about these people. You have no proof, and I can bet that you’ve never even been within 100 feet of a tent city in seattle. So…what you are saying really has no weight at all in this…and not very intelligent at all.

    Have a great week :)

  • Jiggers October 15, 2007 (1:34 am)

    I think she likes you House..

  • wseattle mom October 15, 2007 (5:54 am)

    Can we show some compassion for these homeless people please? Many people living in Tent Cities are employed, and can’t afford housing in Seattle. I have young kids, and my concern isn’t tent city, it’s their bigoted neighbors.

  • Anti-House October 15, 2007 (7:24 am)

    Tow House’s car!
    Tow House’s car!
    Tow House’s car!
    Tow House’s car!

  • The House October 15, 2007 (8:26 am)

    This time you’re partially correct, Jan. The emotional side of me says protect your children and mine from stuff like “Tent City” since a good percentage of homeless folks are substance abusers, have psych problems and have dabbled in criminal behavior (not all of them, but a high percentage). The factual side of me says protect the beauty and home values of West Seattle.

    I guess you want my car towed as well…..

    Let’s all toast a beer for Tent City not coming to WS!

  • Jan October 15, 2007 (10:52 am)

    actuallu, House, if you read about tent city…if you look at the information, these are not “ne’er-do-wells”…they are people who govern themselves in these tent cities, they have rules,i.e., no drugs, no alcohol, etc.or you’re kicked out. As another poster noted, many are working people, some are people who simply had a downturn in their lives, can’t afford the rents in seattle, or are just trying to get a leg up again. They are clean, they bathe, wear clean clothes, and if you passed them at the grocery store, they’d just be another person.

    You point out how well you’ve done things in your loife, the right decisions that you’ve made to better yourself and your family, yet complain when you were caught doing something technically illegal. You hide your children form some of the uglier sides of regular life, and (my opinion only here), I doubt that you’re teaching them compassion for their fellow man who may not be as “good” as them. I think we should sentence you (and your family) to working at Union Gospel Mission’s annual Thanksgiving Dinner.

    And I could care less if your car is towed or not :) Got a garage?

  • katydid October 15, 2007 (11:33 am)

    Since Fauntleroy Church has “pooped out” on housing the homeless, here’s another idea that has possibilities:
    (BTW, shame on them, I’d like to know the reasons for refusing)

    There is a vacant school on Delridge Way right now. How about housing homeless people in there for the winter? There would be toilets, showers (I think), a roof over their heads…maybe kitchen facilities. There is a bus stop right outside. And I don’t think providing utilities should be a deal breaker.

    I believe in utilitizing all vacant public facilities. I’ve advocated for and seen it work in other states.

  • The House October 15, 2007 (9:25 pm)

    Since they’re not coming to WS, this is a moo point (like the Friends reference), but I’ll respond because I love Jan so much.

    Jan, all you do is justify underachievment, while I drive for overachievement. Your responses are what everyone else can do for others, while I respond with “What can I do”? You stated that I complained about doing something illegal….In reality, I stated that for 4 years I did something that I had no idea was illegal and also stated that I would comply immediately, then I stated that I was contacting my city officials….I suppose you could see it as complaining.

    Now, you judge not only me, but my kids and family. It’s a shame that I’m forbidden on this board to tell you what I would gladly tell you to your face. Here is some good advice for you and the rest of your “progressive” pals….stop looking at life as a “victim” and everyone else as “victims”. Everyone has the ability to make decisions in their life and almost every negative outcome is because of a negative choice. If you make a negative choice, don’t sit and cry about it….pick yourself up and start making positive choices immediately.

    If you really want to help these people, get them jobs with a private firm (stay away from goverment), get them saving their money and get them on the path of controlling their own destiny instead of relying on the rest of Seattle.

  • WestSeattleMom October 15, 2007 (10:07 pm)

    House, although I almost always disagree with many of your viewpoints, I want to thank you for expressing your ideas fearlessly. Our world would not be half as interesting (nor would WSB) without folks like you.

  • Think about it October 15, 2007 (10:11 pm)

    “Kirkland Police Case 2005-33413 & 33423 – Tent City resident exposing himself to youth, substance abuse, and assault on a police officer

    Bothell Police Case 04B-02942 – Possession of drugs in security tent (methamphetamine) from female Tent City Organization Security personnel

    Bothell Police Case 04B-02668 – Level 2-sex offender, the person was removed from the Bothell Tent City 4. The Case report states that he was previously living in the Tent City 3 location. King County has a web site that list Hundreds of Homeless Sex Offenders from level 1 to level 3.

    Bothell Police Case 04B-03345 – Assault Arrest

    Bothell Police Case 04B-04203 – Domestic Violence

    Bothell Police Case 04B-02768, Case 04B-03405, Case 04B-03943 – Felony

    Bothell Police Case 04B-02651 – Misdemeanor convictions

    Bothell Police Case 04B-02640 – Mental person apprehended at gunpoint

    Bothell Police Case 04B-02756 – Friends of the Tent City 4 residents had criminal records including warrants for arrest

    King County Police Records Department – Six arrest were made in the Woodinville Tent City 4 location

    Even with background checks, strict rules and site security, criminal activity is rampant in and around Tent Cities. Information Retail stores in areas surrounding Tent City sites report huge increases in shoplifting and loitering (often for the purpose of panhandling). Littering of drug paraphernalia and alcoholic beverage containers in surrounding areas also increases drama”*


  • anonymous June 21, 2008 (2:02 am)

    Coming to your neighborhood soon:
    The Mercer Island City Council (in collaboration with the Mercer Island Reporter newspaper and SHARE) kept the public in the dark, notified no one – not even the church’s next door residential neighbors – then on Monday June 16, 2008, voted to approve a Temporary Use Agreement with United Methodist Church and SHARE to host a Tent City for 100 homeless people just 3 blocks from of a Boys and Girls Club, one block from a wooded park with public tennis courts, soccer and baseball fields, in a neighborhood with kids of all ages who normally walk and bike freely to the park, school bus stop, and the Boys and Girls Club.
    Without time to properly plan for the meeting, about 10 homeowners in the neighborhood spoke at the “standing room only” council meeting in opposition to the proposed agreement.
    But about 25 highly prepared out-of-towners with written statements, who have no investment in this neighborhood, steam-rolled us, and convinced the council to host the tent city for 3 months starting this August, then host it again, and again, every year in the future for 3 months each year! What? Where were our rights as tax paying citizens and homeowners? Where was due process?
    Two local women left the city council meeting in tears while some of SHARE’s speakers chased each other around the MI City Hall parking lot in glee.
    They plan to host the 100 homeless on a 0.3 acre gravel parking lot just 70′ x 160′ (including 20’ setbacks) behind the church. The parking lot would normally be zoned for 2 single family homes. The next time someone wants to build a church in your neighborhood … don’t get me started.
    If they placed 100 farm animals in tents on this parking lot for 3 months in the mid-summer heat, animal activists would have a field day and shut it down for cruelty. But SHARE found a loophole in our state constitution that a church can host a tent city on their land, without concern for the neighborhood, without even notifying the neighbors, and there is nothing we can do to stop it.
    Most of us have worked hard for many, many years to be able to afford to live here, then SHARE moves in for free at the expense of the faith community, public services, and our neighborhood.
    I love Seattle and Washington State, but when SHARE, a special interest group with no investment in this neighborhood, has more rights than the homeowners who work hard to live here, something is very, very wrong.
    The following edition of the Mercer Island Reporter newspaper 2 days later on June 18, 2008 had no coverage of the travesty that had taken place during the city council meeting. Zip. Nada. All part of their “Don’t tell anyone” scheme in collaboration with the church and city council.
    Please see http://www.tentcitysolutions.com for more info.

  • WSB June 21, 2008 (2:44 am)

    Hi. This is an eight-month-old thread. In fact, in this community, we reported extensively on this issue, as West Seattle’s only daily news source, and it didn’t appear in the local (weekly) paper until about a month after the whole thing played out. News organizations all set their own priorities; we watch community issues from homeless shelters to schools to law enforcement to development to crime, and way beyond, as closely as we can. That aside, what leads you to say “coming soon (here)?” I don’t see any specific West Seattle mentions in your comment.

Sorry, comment time is over.