Tag Archives: Lake City Task Force on Homelessness

Lake City Christian Church to host ‘Safe Parking’ program for homeless living in cars

Lake City Christian Church is planning to host Seattle’s “Safe Parking” program, a pilot program that allows homeless people living in their cars a place to park for the night. The plan would allow for homeless campers to park and sleep in the church’s parking lot at night.

The church is hosting a meeting to discuss the plans with community members on Tuesday (April 23rd) at 7 p.m., and you are invited to attend.

A sign warns car campers on NE 127th Street.

A sign warns car campers on NE 127th Street.

Safe Parking’s goal is to get people living in their cars off the street and give them a safe and dependable place to park. Many times people living in their cars play a cat and mouse game with parking enforcement officers as they move their vehicles around to avoid citations. Many streets where groups of homeless car campers would gather have been signed to prevent them from gathering there.

The program is a pilot between the churches, social service agencies and the City of Seattle.

Lake City Christian Pastor Mary Olney-Loyd said details of the plan still need to be ironed out, such as the hours campers would be allowed on the property and what date the program would start. She said that campers would likely not be allowed in the building during hours that the preschool was open there.

Rev. Olney-Olyd also said the plan is for participants to be screened and to work with social service agencies to find housing while living in their cars.

You can read more about the program in this December 2012 story in the Seattle Times.

What: Safe Parking community meeting

When: Tuesday, April 23, 7 p.m.

Where: Lake City Christian Church , 1933 NE 125th Street, Seattle WA, 98125

Who: Community members to discuss “Safe Parking” program coming to Lake City

For more information about the meeting call 206-363-1438 or e-mail: office@lakecitychristianchurch.org

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Crosscut: Law change, closure of FS39 shelter encourages area churches to take larger role in housing homeless

Online news site Crosscut posted a story on Monday by author Julie Gunter that details efforts by the faith community in northeast Seattle to provide housing and food for homeless people in small scale, church-sponsored shelters.

The article theorizes that the model of small-scale, ecumenical response being done in Lake City could change the way homelessness is addressed in the larger community.

From the report:

Last fall, as homeless community members reluctant to seek shelter downtown faced a cold season on Lake City’s streets, a new coalition stepped up to fill the gap left by the empty fire station. The Lake City Task Force on Homelessness, Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission and four other local churches— Seattle Mennonite Church, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Our Lady of the Lake Parish and Lake City Baptist Church —came together to offer homeless neighbors a rotating volunteer-run satellite shelter from November through March.

Congregations have been helped in their efforts by revised state law, ESHB 1956, which more clearly defined the authority of religious bodies to house the homeless on congregational property in 2009. More recently, an ordinance unanimously passed by the Seattle City Council in 2011 authorized churches to host encampments for extended periods of time, as long as they meet basic public health and safety standards, promote good neighbor relations, prohibit banned substances and weapons, prohibit sex offenders and enforce rules related to the proximity of children within or near the shelter.

The issue of concentrating homeless people in Lake City, such as with the larger-scale shelter at the public-owned Fire Station 39, had previously caused an uproar. The frustration was increased because homeless people from downtown shelter overflow and emergency room releases were being sent to the Lake City shelter. The influx of homeless from outside the neighborhood even frustrated longtime neighborhood homeless as they had to suddenly negotiate services in the neighborhood along with many others.

But the church-sponsored, smaller scale shelters have not generated any noticeable protest from neighbors. Previous stories about the small-scale church shelters have not sparked online debate among readers like stories about the larger, permanent projects such as Fire Station 39 or the proposed Community Psychiatric Clinic’s Valor Apartments for veterans with a dual diagnosis of substance abuse and mental illness.

The Crosscut story gives a good look inside efforts by the faith community. Our Lady of the Lake in Wedgewood participated recently in the rotating shelter and the story gives a description of how the church-sponsored shelter operated.

From the story:

Michael Palmer, parish administrator, explains that, without a clear guide to follow, his job began as “a process of weaving my way through the city, the city’s building department, and the permitting process.” Strict archdiocesan policies, insurance requirements and fire code regulations were also closely followed…

For the approximately five to fifteen men and women who arrived at night, chilled and foot-sore, fresh flowers, radiator-warmth and dark, strong coffee provided a semblance of home. Guests congregated around a long table to eat meals, tell stories and watch classic movies before heading at curfew to their camp-style mats and blankets.

You can read the entire story about effort by area churches to house and feed homeless in our area here: http://crosscut.com/2013/03/04/social-services/113254/can-churches-solve-our-homelessness-problem/

More info on temporary homeless shelter to open at Lake City Baptist Church

Lake City Baptist Church (Google Street View)

Lake City Baptist Church (Google Street View)

Lake City Baptist Church has provided more information about volunteer opportunities and screening at the the Lake City Baptist Church UGM Winter Shelter. The shelter is scheduled to open on Wednesday, February 27th and to run through March 15th.

The shelter is for adults only and will be providing services between 7pm and 7am. The services include dinner, sleeping quarters for the night, and a breakfast. Union Gospel Mission will be providing sleeping cots and staff to assist.

The following is a response from Hannah Olufs from the church. It was edited for context. You can reach her at houfs@gmail.com for more info.

We do need volunteers to come in at 5:00AM-7:00AM to fix a simple breakfast, serve our guests, and clean-up at the Lake City Baptist Church temporary shelter. We serve our guests the hot portion of our meal (oatmeal), and they can help themselves to coffee/juice. We set the table for our guests. Guests are not allowed in the kitchen. If they want something heated, we use the microwave and bring it back out to them. Our kitchen is not large, so we have that rule for everyone’s safety.

We are very excited about this opportunity to help people in our community. Members of the community could volunteer to help us fill “to go” bags for the morning. We would like to send our guests with a lunch bag with energy bars, bottled water, trail mix, nuts, small packages of crackers with peanut butter, or anything healthy, with protein if possible, that is easily carried. Those food items are just a suggestion. If anyone cares to contribute, they can knock on the church door, and if anyone is there, we will open it. If it is between 7:00PM and 7:00AM, the back door of the church is open. If none of the above, anything left on the front porch of the church is safe.

In regards to screening, Olufs said that all guest must have a Washington State ID. In addition, all guests will be checked against the Registered Sex Offender database. If they are on the database then they are escorted off the property, given a bus ticket and directed to the downtown Seattle Union Gospel shelter. Whether they would accept intoxicated individuals is still an open question.

Neighborhood group Douglas Park Cooperative has requested that the church and their operational partner – UGM – provide information about any individuals that are turned away so that they can be aware of their presence in the neighborhood if they decide to linger.

You can read more about the shelter in this previous post by Douglas Park Cooperative.

KOMO News: Rotating winter shelter for homeless coming to Lake City, Shoreline

On Sunday KOMO News published a story about a temporary, rotating winter homeless shelter run by Union Gospel Mission coming to churches in Lake City and Shoreline.

And according to the KOMO story the coming shelter is a surprise to some in the Lake City community —even after previous shelter plans that surprised the community prompted vows of more transparency with future shelter plans. People contacted for the story learned of the plan from the KOMO reporter.

The plan, according to the KOMO report, is part of a request by the Lake City Task Force on Homelessness to bring the rotating shelter to three area churches, beginning on Monday, January 7th.

The schedule for the shelter is below:
  • Jan 7 – Jan 27, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 14514 20th Avenue Northeast, Shoreline
  • Jan 28 – Feb 17, Seattle Mennonite Church, 3120 NE 125th St., Seattle
  • Feb 17 – Mar 15, Lake City Baptist Church, 2441 Northeast 125th Street, Seattle
From the KOMO story:

According to [Paul] LaRose [of Union Gospel Mission], shelter organizers took concerns made by neighbors and business owners last year and came up with a different way to run the temporary shelter this time around.
"We are only offering an overnight shelter, from 7:00p.m. to 7:00a.m., primarily for people of Lake City. Last year that's what we tried to do but people were being referred by hospitals, like Harborview, and clinics when they were released. Someone would send them to Lake City, or the eastside Bellevue shelter, this year we don't expect it to be like that," said LaRose.
Mike Duke, owner of the Grocery Outlet in Lake City, says he understands people need help, and initially he allowed those staying at the shelter last year to use his store’s restroom. But he says his business ended up losing so much inventory they were forced to put locks on the bathroom doors. 
"We had a terrible problem with panhandlers in the parking lot being really aggressive. Shoplifting was our biggest problem. We lost $28,000 in inventory during the quarter the shelter was open which was way over our normal amount and as soon as it shut down our loses went back to normal levels," said Duke.

You can read the entire KOMO report here.