Camp Unity Eastside, which is currently at Trinity Lutheran Church in Kirkland, plans to move to First United Methodist's Northtowne Bellevue location on Sept. 14, said Steve Wiggins, executive operations director and a resident of the camp.
The First United Methodist Church of Bellevue, 1934 108th Ave NE, plans to have a community meeting at 6 p.m. Aug. 1 on its plans to host the homeless camp for nearly three months.
Camp Unity Eastside has 85 residents currently, though they have room for up to 100, Wiggins said.
Camp Unity Eastside split from Tent City 4 in November after some Tent City 4 residents said that the camp's parent group SHARE objected to an agreement for random checks for sex offenders after the arrest of a child rape suspect at the camp, among other complaints, according to a story by Patch.
SHARE still operates Tent City 4, which is moving this weekend from the Kirkland Congregational Church to the Redwood Family Church in Redmond. Tent City 4 was last in Bellevue in 2011 when it stayed at Temple B'nai Torah.
Wiggins said that Camp Unity Eastside has a focus is to help its residents move out of the encampment and into traditional housing and jobs.
"We are an empowerment camp," Wiggins said, saying that the group works with service providers to help residents move into mainstream living conditions.
Joe Matson, a congregation member of First United Methodist who is organizing the move, said the focus on helping people move into housing appealed to the church, which had hosted Tent City 4 once before starting in 2009.
The church had a very positive experience hosting Tent City 4 in 2009 and had been preparing for another opportunity to help the homeless at their church again, Matson said.
Though Camp Unity Eastside is relatively new, Matson said that the church appreciated the camp's focus.
"They were really interested in training sessions to encourage them to get back to the workforce and to stable living situations," Matson said, adding that many of the camp residents already are employed, but can't afford housing despite their employment.
Camp Unity also has continuing background checks, including checks for sex offenders and for warrants, Wiggins said, and there is a no drugs or alcohol policy for its residents.
The effort to host a homeless encampment is a big one for a church, Matson said. It requires a budget of at least $10,000 and many volunteer hours to help feed the group and prepare the church for providing adequate electricity and drainage. The church also has to reach out to its neighbors and address the neighborhood's concerns about the camp.
But Matson said the effort is worth it for the congregation.
"It's to help your brothers and sister and the less fortunate," Matson said. "It brings you closer to your neighbors. It's an enriching thing for congregation as well."