Tent City Three moves back to 22nd and Cherry

Over 60 new neighbors moved in at 22nd and Cherry when Tent City Three set-up camp over the weekend. The group is staying in the lot at the invitation of Cherry Hill Baptist Church until April 23.

A Tent City has been established on this vacant lot several times already (for CDN stories from past Tent City stays, see here, here and here). This community is moving from Meadowbrook, where they stayed in the parking lot of the Maple Leaf Lutheran Church.

I had the chance to take a tour of Tent City Three last night. People were still working to get things organized after the move, but the city was functioning and lively. My tour guide was also one of the residents working security at the time I stopped by. Each member of the camp must work security shifts and do other work (such as picking up trash in the surrounding area) in order to give back to the community. The camp has two large sleeping tents, one for men and one for women, as well as single and double tents. There is a common space tent and a tent for food, though they can only use a microwave due to fire concerns about the use of open flames. There are also Porta-Potties and washrooms, though this location does not have an on-site shower.

The 22nd and Cherry lot is smaller than their previous home in Meadowbrook. Though most of the Meadowbrook neighbors liked Tent City Three, my guide said, there were some problems from a few neighbors. A couple neighbors set-up security cameras and pointed them at the camp, which many Tent City residents felt was an invasion of their privacy. There were a couple problems with a few Tent City residents, but the group has strict rules for dealing with people who are causing problems. They were kicked out, my guide said.

Tent City Three was featured in the Sacramento Bee just last week as an example of a homeless encampment model that could work for Sacramento’s problems. Seattle’s Tent Cities are sanctioned by the city, whereas the encampments in Sacramento are often raided and can be more dangerous. From the Sacramento Bee:

Albert Walker, 50, has been living in Tent City 3 for about three weeks. He’s a drywaller and earlier this month, he went to Sacramento on the promise of work. The work didn’t materialize and he came back to Seattle.

While in Sacramento he went to the American River Parkway, but said encampments there were disorganized and many people “were carrying baseball bats in their bags.” He felt threatened.

“I probably could have done it, but why?” he told me. “It was drugs and fights.”

In Seattle, the tent cities provide stability for Walker. He told me he’s able to come and go as he pleases and look for work. Shelters in Seattle kick him out for long periods of time during the day, forcing him to carry his belongings.

0 thoughts on “Tent City Three moves back to 22nd and Cherry

  1. “people who are causing problems. They were kicked out, my guide said”

    So they get kicked out into the neighborhood, and then what?

  2. I dropped off a couple of old family sized tents there last time Tent City was as 22nd/Cherry.

    The gratitude from the residents was very genuine. I encourage others to pass on useful items to them.

  3. What sort of donations do they need? Food? Are there other ways that we can help with our time? Clean up, etc?

  4. This is an absolute eyesore for the neigborhood. I can’t believe we are welcoming them to the neiborhood.

  5. I can’t stand this! Cities are expensive and all the services that we have are supported by TAXES! If you can’t provide value to society you must find a cheaper place to live! Try Forks or Cle Elum.

    A quick check of Craigslist shows 186 rooms for rent under $350. If you can’t afford $350 per month YOU CAN’T AFFORD SEATTLE! Move to a cheaper place!

    The hard-working property tax paying citizens of this city should run these folks out of town, not welcome them. If you live in a tent, try a national park.

  6. Seriously? What part of homeless as a lifestyle don’t you understand? There are nearly 200 rooms for rent for less that $350 on Craigslist. If you want to help them, make this life harder, not easier. That will encourage better choices.

  7. Agree Agree Agree. I seriously do not understand how is this good for our community.

    I would not want to buy a house near this kind of establishment.

  8. Maybe you’ve lucked out. You have a great 40/hr job in Seattle, earning Seattle minimum wage (highest in U.S.), earning $1,222.07/month (after taxes), and you actually find a place to live inside city limits. Well then you’re set. In fact, if you have a full-time job, you’re probably not even looking to share a room and facilities for $350. Plus utilities.

    But maybe you save it for other things. Like “dependable” transportation, gas, insurance & maintenance. Or maybe you rely on “undependable” transit and pay $100/month. Then perhaps you still have enough left over for other splurges. Like breakfast, lunch & dinner (estimated by some Seattle agencies at $400/month). But perhaps you live on canned soup (you’ll get diabetes in the long run, that’s a pretty penny, but hey, it’s cheap when you buy it…) But perhaps you blow that savings on other trifles instead. Like medical bills. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have insurance. At minimum wage, not likely. Good thing you’re young.

    You are young, right? Full of energy, no illnesses? No hindrances, like being married. No children born during a more prosperous time, right? Speaking of which, you ARE still married, right? No irreconcilable differences, right? Hopefully they weren’t so irresponsible as to die on you, leaving you with those kids, right? Well, maybe your family could stay on the dirty uncle’s couch, that’s what family is for. But no, you’re young, right? No family ties around your neck. No child-care to arrange and pay for, no kids to feed or keep healthy or send to decent schools. You can move anywhere at a moment’s notice.

    But what if you lose that job? You would downscale immediately, right? Well, no. If you’re like most people, hope springs eternal. Surely there’s another job out there for a hardworking, experienced person like yourself. You’re young, right? Well then, I guess you’re not really that “experienced”… and first hired, first fired.

    But hey, maybe you’re not that young anymore. Maybe you were even close to retirement when you got laid off. I’m sure a lot of companies would love to add another 50-year-old to the payroll. In a lower-wage position. (You’re not gonna act like an old know-it-all who insists on doing things your own way – Right? Sure…) You’re still as quick and eager as a 17-year-old, right? You can keep up the pace. By the way, got any medical conditions they should know about?

    Apparently there’s a lot of people applying for those jobs. Maybe you’ll need to use that credit card to get by for awhile. Nothing big, mind you. Just bus fare to those job interviews. And perhaps bus fare to that part-time job you took to pay the rent. That part-time job doesn’t cover much else. Like food. But it’s temporary. Right? Good thing, because the more you use it, the more likely the card company is to raise the rate, even if you’re “good” and always pay it off promptly. Nothing personal – they’re raising rates on everybody. Good thing you always pay your credit card company first, before your landlord, right?

    Well, they say prosperity is around the corner, but that job still hasn’t come your way yet. You do get a lot of colorful envelopes though. And calls from demanding people that you don’t know. You explain that you pay to share a stranger’s living room now and you’ve cut up the credit card and you get ramen from the food bank now, and walk two hours to open the store before dawn at that part-time job (thank god for it). You want to pay the dentist the very minute you get hired full-time, you really do. (Imagine trying to keep a job without that front tooth.) But they keep asking if you couldn’t possibly have just five bucks to send now. And looking at the holes in your shoes and socks, you have to say you don’t.

    Because if you did have money, you’d pay the gas money to sunny California now. They have jobs there, surely. How’s their economy going? Transportation will cost more, not being in a city. Never mind, you’ll figure it out when you get there.

    Hopefully prospective employers won’t demand a credit-check report. It’ll prove how far you’ve fallen. (Of course, it won’t be based on your previous employment history or salary. Or how much you had saved in the bank before you were laid off. Or anything beyond the fact you’re in debt. Hopefully, they got the right John Smith. Not that you’d know if they didn’t.) And hopefully you won’t need an address to get a job. Or vice versa. Hopefully, they won’t ask for a credit report when you try to rent a cheaper $200/month room either. You’ve got first month’s rent, and last, & deposit right? Just about $500 up front. What a steal. You lucked out.

    And it’s not like you’ve had any problems with depression, antisocial behavior, alcoholism, or mental illness during all this, right?

    Hey, at least it’s warm in California. You could always just sit on a park bench if you couldn’t find a place. It’s not like anyone’s gonna tell you to move, or mug a broke homeless person, right?

    It’s a long story for a comment, I know. When you “get real”, the stories usually get longer.

  9. In reply to Mercury23 and Andy (and thank you to Izzy)

    I work with homeless youth and homeless people in general. There are many barriers to having a place to live and it isn’t as simple as paying $350 for a room (though the money is a pretty big barrier because there is a security deposit and one must have a stable income and good credit and no felonies to rent most places).

    Other barriers include having no support systems growing up (for example being in foster care), mental health issues, physical disability, developmental disability, chemical dependency, unemployment, family crises and lack of education. Or, if you are a youth, you might have been kicked out by your parents because they didn’t understand your sexual orientation, or you got pregnant or you had mental health issues that were confusing.

    Furthermore, cities are the exact place that homeless camps should be due to social services, transportation and large amount of jobs. Living rurally is very isolating and often does not have the necessary support structures.

    My friend used to live on Cherry directly next to the camp. When they were here a couple years ago she would take the large containers of left overs she got working at a restaurant and share them with the people and share stories. I encourage everyone to stop by and say, they need and would enjoy most possible donations (especially hot hands, tarps, clothes, food and bus tickets).


  10. No compassion for a fellow human beings who fall on bad luck? These are not drug addicts or criminals. They are people without a house to live in. Most have jobs and see Tent City 3 as a temporary place to be safe while they work to transition back into better living conditions.

    Come on you folks thinking “If you can’t afford $350 per month YOU CAN’T AFFORD SEATTLE! Move to a cheaper place!” — that cheaper place like Forks and Cle Elum is not going to have an abundance of jobs to get people back on their feet. Getting $350 together without one is a huge hurdle.

    There are stories upon stories of TC3 residents getting back into permanent housing, all the while holding down a job and making a contribution. Something they wouldn’t have been able to do without the support of TC3 and a community of decent caring people.

  11. Thank you Izzy, you got that right, all of it. Unfortunately the Mercury23 and Andy of the world will never get it.

  12. “the Mercury23 and Andy of the world will never get it.”

    They might get it if they have to LIVE it. We all might get it.

  13. Izzy and Annie,

    I am all for social services and helping people back on their feet. I am not questioning the motive of helping people. I am complaining the location, which is in my neiborhood.

    I want Central District to be a thriving and beautiful neiborhood, not a ghetto. Having this kind of establishment is not helping us to get there. Again, I am really happy so see this kind of program, just not in my neighborhood.

    I am just looking at it from a person that want our community thrive.

    Izzy, did bring up a great point about dependable transportation. Why is it Seattle doesn’t have a great public transportation system. Where does all of the tax money that we pay go? If we funnel more of the tax money to projects that build our city we would have a much better public transportation system. I envy the public transportation system that they have in europe, japan and china.

    Sorry if I offend anyone here. I deeply care about the social issue, but I just do not like the location.

  14. Do you have a suggestion of where a good place for tent city would be?
    Not sure if you already knew this but tent city has been in Bellevue several times.

  15. There are two tent cities that I am aware of. One in Seattle and the other in the east side. I believe their current location (tent city 4) is in Kirkland. I live a minute’s walk from Tent City 3’s current location and I am NOT a big fan of more “sympathy-based bandaid” projects moving into any neighborhood. I support this one because I do not view it as one. It holds its residence accountable and each has to serve a function in it’s community. I do not feel this type of “facility/program” would benefit from being outside the city as many of it’s residents have or are in the process of gaining employment. Being in a rural environment would hinder that goal. If this facility was one that housed mentally or chemically challenged individuals to treat and try to get them to the point of being functioning, employable and independently living, then I say a rural environment is PERFECT and an inner city/residential is counter productive. I will be taking my daughter to hand out blankets, socks and dry goods next weekend. I feel they deserve our support.