Tent City IV, a homeless encampment that travels to churches and houses of worship throughout the Eastside, has gotten the OK to move to Temple B'nai Torah later this month.
There is a required 21-day appeal period that ends July 28, which means that the permit would allow Tent City IV to move to Temple B'nai Torah on 15727 NE 4th St. as soon as July 29.
Temple board president Shana Aucsmith said that the board voted unanimously to bring the Tent City 4 back to Temple B'nai Torah for the third time.
"It's such an opportunity for us to help other people," she said.
Tent City 4 is a homeless encampment hosted by different churches throughout the Eastside. It has been operating since 2004 and has been hosted by houses of worship in Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Mercer Island, and Woodinville throughout the years, usually camping on the grounds on 90 day encampment permits. Tent City 4 is currently at in Redmond.
The temple's Senior Rabbi James Mirel said in a prepared statement, “we consider our hosting of Tent City 4 as part of our religious obligation to be co-workers with God in repairing the world, 'tikun olam.'"
At a recent meeting at the temple, some neighbors of the temple expressed concern over the traffic and noise impact to the neighborhood and over crime.
Mirel told the neighbors that he would make his contact information available to any neighbor for a complaint and the Bellevue Police Department said that they would provide patrols for the area.
In response to a resident who presented a list of police calls made to Tent City 4 on a 2005-2006 stay at Temple B'nai Torah and St. Luke's Lutheran Church, Bellevue Police Capt. Autumn Fowler said that many of those calls were not reports of crime from the surrounding community, but calls from Tent City 4 itself, as a result of its own warrant checks on people who were applying to become residents.
According to the records presented, the most common call to police listed during that six month period were the result of warrant checks by Tent City 4. The most serious incident reported during that time period was an arrest for theft and burglary of items from a store totaling more than $1,800. The two other reported thefts during that period were of $8 worth of merchandise at a grocery store, and a resident who reported that about $140 worth of items were missing from his tent, according to the records provided.
Bellevue police spokeswoman Carla Iafrate has said that there hasn't been any trouble from the encampment when it has stayed in Bellevue, because of the screening and the staff supervision.
City of Redmond police spokesman Jim Bove said that the current Tent City 4 stay so far at St. Jude has had fewer police calls than any previous stay in Redmond.
Aucsmith said that the first time that the Tent City 4 made plans to stay at the temple, a few congregation members and neighbors were concerned about various issues, but she said that the organization and the positive experience of helping those in need won some skeptics over.
"We've seen less concerns over time, because of the positive experience," she said.
Tent City 4 is organized by the organization SHARE/WHEEL, which stands for Seattle Housing and Resource Efforts (SHARE) and Women’s Housing, Equality, and Enhancement League (WHEEL).
After its stay at the temple, Tent City 4 is scheduled to move to Community Church of Issaquah, where congregants voted last month to allow the encampment on the church parking lot in October, according to Tent City 4's website.