Tag Archives: UGM

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.

Rotating Winter Shelter coming to Lake City Baptist

Lake City Baptist Church will begin hosting a winter homeless shelter starting next Wednesday, February 27th and running through March 15th. The shelter is for adults only and will be providing services between 7 pm and 7 am. The services include dinner, sleeping quarters for the night, and breakfast. Union Gospel Mission will be providing sleeping cots and staff to assist.

Rowen Headington and Hannah Olufs from the church are the contacts. Neighborhood group Douglas Park Cooperative asked what the community can do to volunteer hours and resources. Rowen indicated they may need help with cooking oatmeal and coffee around 5am. We will report back with more specifics on how members of the community can volunteer and what supplies they will need when we get more information.

Lake City Baptist Church on 125th and 25th
Eating / sleeping quarters on lower level of church