Temple B'nai Torah in Bellevue Plans to Host Tent City 4

Public hearing on whether the temple should host the homeless encampment will be June 23 at the Temple.

Tent City 4 is slated to return to Bellevue on the grounds of Temple B'nai Torah north of the Lake Hills neighborhood next month.

Tent City 4 is a homeless encampment that is 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.

Temple B'nai Torah is holding a public hearing and information session for the community from 6 to 8:30 p.m. June 23.

Tent City 4 plans to move to Temple B'nai Torah on July 23, if the city of Bellevue approves the permit.

It's the third time that the temple has hosted Tent City 4, said Melissa Bloom, the temple's director of administration. The encampment will be on the temple's lawn.

Senior Rabbi James Mirel said “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.'"

About 100 people are permitted to live in Tent City 4 and residents must pass a criminal background check and sex offender check. The encampment prohibits alcohol, drugs, weapons, fighting, abuse of any kind, littering or disturbing neighbors, and failure to do so can be cause for immediate expulsion, according to Tent City's website. Residents and staff of Tent City 4 keep an eye on activity and provide security 24 hours a day.

Tent City 4 provides shelter and basic needs for adults, and allows men and women, including couples, but no children.

The city of Bellevue allows one encampment permit a year, according to city land use director Carol Helland. According to Tent City 4 staff, past churches in Bellevue that have hosted the camp included , and .

Bellevue police spokeswoman Carla Iafrate 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.

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).

Tent City 4 resident Dennis Shipp, who said that he has lived there for several weeks after being unable to work when he broke his ankle, said that he was amazed that people have been so welcoming in their churches and neighborhoods.

The residents also make sure that the encampment is respectful to the community, and does not cause trouble or litter, he said.

"I was really amazed how much the community helps those who want to be helped," he said.

If you go

June 23, 2011 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Temple B’nai Torah
15727 NE 4th Street
Bellevue, WA 98008


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