Bring your questions and an open mind, but leave your personal attacks at home. Those were the ground rules laid down by the Rev. Walter John Boris during...
Bring your questions and an open mind, but leave your personal attacks at home. Those were the ground rules laid down by the Rev. Walter John Boris during a Tent City 4 meeting last night.
And for the most part, that’s what residents did during a low-key community meeting about the tent city’s impending move to Kirkland Congregational United Church of Christ tomorrow. The roving encampment will occupy the church’s 40-space parking lot for the next three months.
“We are only being the church that God calls us to be,” Boris told the crowd of more than 100 at the church.
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During the meeting, Tent City 4 residents spoke of their desire to have a safe place to stay, and Kirkland city officials answered questions about safety concerns and its permitting process for the tent city. Members of St. John Mary Vianney Catholic Church near Kirkland, where the encampment is now, said their own prejudices about the homeless were shattered as they got to know tent-city residents.
“You won’t even know they are there — they go to work every day, or they go job hunting,” Sandy Hunt, who lives near St. John, said to future neighbors. Tent-city residents said they were glad to be moving closer to bus lines and other resources. Kirkland Congregational is across the street from Kirkland City Hall and the Kirkland Police Department.
“We don’t want to leave St. John’s, but if we had to go, this is the place to go,” said Lora Higgins, a tent-city resident. “The library is close by, and the transit system is so good here.”
The city has assigned a fire inspector, Art Hill, to monitor the encampment to ensure it meets all city codes and regulations. The encampment will rely on the church for electricity for some basic comforts, such as a microwave, coffee pot and toaster, and water for showers. There also will be portable toilets and possibly a washer and dryer set up on the premises, Boris said.
The church has applied for a temporary-use permit from the city, but the encampment may move in while the city processes the application, said Lynn Stokesbary, Kirkland assistant city manager.
“We believe, as a church, we already have a permit to do this,” Boris said.
Not all residents are welcoming the encampment to their neighborhood. A group will ask a King County Superior Court judge to grant a temporary restraining order during a court hearing scheduled for this afternoon, said Jane Koler, a Kirkland attorney representing the group.
The group wants to keep the encampment out of Kirkland or force it to be housed in the church until the city grants Tent City 4 a temporary-use permit, Koler said.
Rachel Tuinstra: 206-515-5637 or firstname.lastname@example.org