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Welcome Tent City 4

Seattle Mennonite Church is excited to welcome SHARE/WHEEL and Tent City 4 and share our space with them from May 18, 2024 until mid-May 2025.

Many congregations have hosted Tent City over the last 22 years, and many have done so numerous times. We understand that hosting the camp may foster hesitancy and even fear from some in the neighborhood. We hope to address some of those feelings by offering more information about Tent City 4, and invite you to reach out to us or the camp for further conversation.

What is Tent City 4?

Organized tent encampments, like Tent City 4 (TC4), provide a safe place for those experiencing homelessness as they look for more permanent housing. Families and individuals come together to create a self-organized and democratic community.

We can provide a safe space for the residents of the camp while maintaining the safety of the neighborhood.

Why are you doing this?

Simply put, we believe it is the right thing to do. As a community of faith, we embrace a tradition of active peacemaking and advocacy for people who are marginalized. We seek to transform injustice in all its forms. And we take seriously Jesus’ call to love our neighbors as ourselves. 

Based upon the hosting experiences of many congregations, and TC4’s commendable track record all over the city, we believe that hosting Tent City 4 cultivates hope, and is a small step in addressing Seattle’s seemingly intractable problem of homelessness. We continue to work toward a world where the inherent worth of all is affirmed, and all can live with dignity and safety.

We believe, as evidenced by police data and our interview sources, that providing well-managed, safe space for residents of TC4 also enhances the safety of the Lake City neighborhood. TC4 participants patrol the area 24/7 and keep the surrounding area clear of trash.

How many people live in TC4, and what kind of facilities are available to them?

TC4 is a community of up to 100 individuals living in tents. Some have pets,mainly dogs. The camp also has a kitchen tent, a donation tent, a warming tent (with a TV), and the welcome tent at the entrance.

The city funds portable toilets and hand washing stations. Even with these costs to the city, plus the assistance the city provides for moving the camp, Tent City 4 remains the most cost-efficient form of city-funded shelter within the city’s shelter network.

How are residents screened and held accountable?

TC4 is resident-run, with all residents participating in the daily life of the camp. The TC4 community elects leaders from amongst the residents, and SHARE/WHEEL staff support. They operate with a strict Code of Conduct which requires sobriety, nonviolence, cooperation and participation. Those not respecting the Code of Conduct must leave the community. (See letter from SHARE/WHEEL and Code of Conduct below).

TC4 is welcomed by so many congregations based on their good reputation. They have long been sanctioned by the City of Seattle. If they were not good neighbors, they would not be allowed to continue as a program.

Are there ways I can get involved? Can I donate anything?

Neighbors can bake muffins or cookies, share some non-perishable groceries, or prepare an evening meal. Stop by and visit anytime! Just ask for the Security Worker when you come. (There are always two people on security.)

Donations – yes! Share/Wheel, which sponsors TC4, needs financial support. Once Tent City 4 is up and running, feel free to stop by and ask the Security Worker about donation needs for things like tents, toilet paper, toiletries, blankets and rain coats.