Sunday, February 19, 2017

Special request for Camp Unity Eastside

02/19/17: Camp Unity Eastside needs the following. 

If you can provide any of these items, please drop them off at Camp Unity Eastside, St. Jude Parish, or call Greater Seattle Cares to arrange a pick-up.
  • Financial donations to help fund ongoing expenses such as for insurance, garbage, and basic maintenance and operations of the camp vehicle. Donations are tax deductible. If you can help, please mail your donation to Camp Unity Eastside, PO Box 342, Redmond, WA 98073.
  • A thermos coffee carafe
  • powder creamer
  • sugar
  • sugar free hot chocolate
  • bottled water
  • aspirin
  • hand sanitizer
  • Tums
  • Pepto Bismol
  • grocery cards
  • ORCA cards
  • 4 large and 1 extra large knee braces
  • 1 gallon Ziploc bags
  • duct tape
  • 30 gallon trash can size black trash bags or contractor bags
  • paper towels
  • needle & sewing kit
  • AAA and 6V batteries
  • HP 63 Black Printer ink
  • 11” zip ties
  • shower curtain and rings
  • shower cleaner
  • 3 cots for sleeping.

Residents seeking work: While some of the residents are currently employed, others are not and are actively seeking employment. Among the skills these men and women have are experience with data entry, call center staffing, administrative skills in a corporate setting, organization, event planning and coordination, and hauling and delivery services.  
Please consider these campers if you have a need for any of these services
The best way to follow up is to call Camp Unity at 425-652-9170 and talk with the camper who is staffing the front desk at that time. They can connect you with campers who are seeking employment.

Monday, February 6, 2017

We sent an email to Shoreline City Council

Shoreline City Council was considering passing an ordinance that would have made hosting an encampment nearly impossible for most churches in Shoreline.

GSC's President, Cindy Roat, wrote an email letter on behalf of the Board of GSC.

Here's what it said:
Dear members of the Shoreline City Council,

This email is a request to the City Council to consider alternative language to the proposed amendments to the Shoreline zoning code that will affect transitional encampments in the city. These proposed amendments do not reflect the spirit of the directive that the City Council gave to the Planning Council, nor do they reflect the overall spirit of support that Shoreline residents have demonstrated for homeless populations over the past eight years.

I am writing as President of Greater Seattle Cares, a small non-profit organization serving four transitional encampments in the Puget Sound area. I myself am a Shoreline resident since 2003, serving the homeless since 2009, and I have always been proud of the support that this community has shown to individuals who are experiencing homelessness. Permitted encampments have found hosts here in Shoreline since Tent City 3 first came to Calvin Presbyterian Church in 2009, and many churches have since hosted camps with no problems, inspiring amazing levels of moral and material support from families in the surrounding neighborhoods. In late 2015, the City Council passed Resolution 379, in which the Council directed the city’s Planning Commission to review the city zoning codes with a view to reducing barriers even more for people experiencing homelessness in this community. Our Mayor, Chris Roberts, has even taken time out of his busy schedule to visit Camp United We Stand, one of the camps currently hosted in Shoreline. This personal interest meant a lot to the residents of that camp: people who often feel slighted, ignored, or actively ostracized because of their housing status, but who have felt accepted and welcomed in Shoreline.

Considering the degree to which so many of the people of Shoreline and their representatives in government have shown great compassion to those who are homeless, Greater Seattle Cares is chagrined to see the proposed amendments to the zoning code that are the results of the Planning Commission’s recent work. These proposed amendments do not reflect the spirit of the directive given to the Planning Council. Instead of lowering barriers for people experiencing homelessness, they will instead make it more difficult for churches and other organizations in Shoreline to host formal encampments. Specifically, the required 20-foot set-back will make almost 90% of the churches in Shoreline ineligible to host an encampment. The requirement for a “managing agency” that owns or leases the land on which the camp resides creates another barrier and ignores the successful relationships that these self-managing camps have had over the years with their church hosts.

In fact, some parts of these amendments may have legal implications for the city.
·         The federal land use provisions of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc, et seq., protect individuals, houses of worship, and other religious institutions from discrimination in zoning and landmarking laws. In particular, the law protects against any “land use regulation that . . . unreasonably limits religious assemblies, institutions, or structures within a jurisdiction.” Since the provision of sanctuary to the poor and homeless is a long-standing, even ancient, right of religious institutions, the two stipulations mentioned above could be construed as in effect placing the city out of compliance with RLUIPA. For more information on RLUIPA, see

·         State laws RCW 35.21.915 and RCW 35A.21.360 also prohibit local government from taking any action that “imposes conditions other than those necessary to protect public health and safety and that do not substantially burden the decisions or actions of a religious organization regarding the location of housing or shelter for homeless persons on property owned by the religious organization.” The limitations described above that would be created by the proposed amendments have nothing at all to do with public health and safety.

Respecting the work of the Planning Commission, and realizing that those unfamiliar with permitted transitional encampments often misconstrue how these function, Greater Seattle Cares would like to propose alternative language to parts of the proposed amendments to the zoning code. I attach these suggested changes, written in Microsoft Word with the “track changes” function. We hope that you will adopt them as you vote on January 30th, or that you will send the entire amendment package back to the Planning Commission for revision, with clear instructions about the nature of the changes to be made.

Thank you for your dedicated work on behalf of the citizens of Shoreline. Please show that you stand for ALL of Shoreline’s citizens, even those who are having difficulties in their lives.

Cindy Roat

Cynthia E. Roat, MPH
President, Greater Seattle Cares

You can read the entire letter online here, at Shoreline's public comments page. You can also see many other people's comments about the matter, including those of Michael Ramos (Church Council of Greater Seattle), Alison Niebauer (Calvin Presbyterian), and Prince of Peace Lutheran. We'd like to thank everyone who commented against the ordinance as proposed.

Homelessness Advocacy 101 Workshop

Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness is conducting workshops on Advocacy!

Per their website,

Our workshops are fun! We'll discuss the funding proposals for shelter, housing, and supportive services currently being considered and review the steps that everyone can take to make sure housing and homelessness concerns are prioritized in our local government. Nancy Amidei, an incomparable pro-democracy cheerleader, local policy experts, and Coalition staff will present details about 3-4 important issues. We'll provide you with simple actions, sample messages, and the chance to practice your skills. You will leave informed and inspired with tools for engaging your classmates, fellow congregants, neighbors and others to speak up and make a difference.

Dates are February 22, February 26, and March 5.

Registration is required, so head for their website and sign up!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

What’s New with GSC? January 2017

Highlighting homelessness in the Puget Sound 
Camp Second Chance gets a second chance 
When Camp Second Chance moved onto unpermitted public land on Meyers Way in July of 2016, the neighbors expected nothing but drugs and garbage. However, the exemplary behavior of this highly organized, neat and friendly camp won over first the neighbors, then the police, then the fire department, and finally the City of Seattle itself. After months of being defended against sweeps by their neighbors, in late 2016 Camp Second Chance was finally authorized as a permitted camp by the City of Seattle! Congratulations, CSC!

UW develops a first-ever on-line course on homelessness 
With Tent City 3 staying at the UW, the University has developed an on-line course about homelessness. We believe this is the first course of its kind.
Check it out at

In Shoreline, on the other hand . . . .

In late 2015, the Shoreline City Council directed its Planning Commission to review the city’s zoning code with a view to lowering barriers for people experiencing homelessness. After an outcry from a small group of residents of Richmond Beach who feared that such amendments would bring more homeless people into their neighborhoods, the Planning Commission sent to the Council a set of amendments that will make it very difficult for any organization to host a camp. Among these is a 20-foot “set-back” rule that drops the number of churches in Shoreline with enough space to host even a small encampment from about 25 to 3. Greater Seattle Cares is asking the City Council to adopt instead alternative language that would not result in a ban on homelessness in Shoreline.

We need the City Council to know that Shoreline can be home to ALL types of people, and that everyone deserves a safe place to sleep.
Come to the Shoreline City Council meeting on January 30th 
at Shoreline City Hall at 17500 Midvale Ave N 
and speak out against these anti-homeless laws. 

For more information, contact GSC President Cindy Roat at

Read on, for the news from the camps that GSC supports: 

Tent City 3 (TC3) 
Currently at: The University of Washington, Parking Lot 35, on the south side of NE Pacific St, just west of Brooklyn Ave. NE.
Next move: TC3’s next move will be on March 18th. The camp does not yet have a host for the next move.
Requests: TC3 is asking for zip ties and batteries. And a host site for March!
Husky Health Bridge, a service group of UW dentistry students
News: While staying at UW, the camp is receiving a lot of attention. Besides the on-line course on homelessness described above, a variety of student groups from the School of Dentistry, the School of Social Work, and the School of Pharmacy are working with GSC to provide professional services to the camp. GSC also continues to deliver supplies and to meet other immediate camp needs. For example, the camp’s coffee maker died this week. Since hot coffee is often the only way residents stay warm in the 20ยบ weather, GSC will be delivering a new one this weekend.

Camp United We Stand (CUWS) 
Currently at: St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church, 722 N 145th St. Shoreline
Next move: CUWS plans to move on February 15th to Shoreline Free Methodist Church, although the approval is still in progress.
Requests: CUWS needs a stapler, AAA batteries, standard angle brooms, dust pans, large latex gloves, Pine Sol (or some other all-purpose cleaner), and Windex

Shoreline Mayor Chris Roberts
News: CUWS has organized to fight the proposed amendments to the Shoreline zoning code, described above. In response to their challenge, Mayor Chris Roberts made a 1-hour visit to the camp on January 19th. Thank you, Mayor Roberts, for taking the time to come see a transitional encampment with your own eyes!

Camp Unity Eastside (CUE) 
Currently at: Kirkland Congregational Church, 106 5th Ave, Kirkland, WA 98033
Next move: CUE will be moving on the weekend of Feb. 3rd and 4th to St. Jude’s Catholic Church, located at 10526 166th Ave. NE in Redmond.
Requests: Help with their upcoming move!
News: The camp currently has 14 residents, because so many have moved into permanent housing. The camp is expected to grow again, however, when it gets to its new site.

Camp Second Chance (CSC) 
Currently at: 9625 Myers Way S, Seattle
Next move: Since CSC has been permitted by the City of Seattle, the camp will not have to move again!
Requests: CSC is in need of some clip boards, duct tape and brooms.
News: As part of the transition to being a permitted camp, CSC will soon be receiving a solid amount of public funding to install water and electricity and water, and to help pay for the Honey Buckets and the garbage service. While the camp will continue to be self-governed, the non-profit organization Patacara Community Services will become the managing agency for the camp.

Camp Second Chance
Picture from the Patacara website
If you would like more detail on any of these topics please contact 

Thank you all for your support and especially your big hearts and generous spirits in doing what you can to help those experiencing homelessness.