UW hosting Tent City 3 for 90 days
Homelessness has become a crisis in Seattle. On Nov. 2, 2015, Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine declared a civil emergency as a result of the crisis. As of the most recent One Night Count, 4,505 people in King County were unsheltered, up 19 percent from the previous year.
As part of the community’s response to this crisis, the UW is hosting an organized tent city community – Tent City 3 – for 90 days starting December 17, 2016, which largely coincides with the 2017 winter quarter. This effort arose from a request by the Tent City Collective – a group of UW students, alumni and Tent City 3 residents who have been working with faculty, academic departments and local civic leaders to bring Tent City 3 to the UW.
Hosting provides service learning opportunities in line with the UW’s educational mission and furthers our role as a public university committed to helping solve the challenges of our city, state and world. While organized tent cities are not a solution to homelessness, they do provide safe shelter as residents seek stable housing.
Tent City 3 is the community partner
Because of its code of conduct and strong reputation with other area universities that have hosted it, the UW is hosting the Tent City 3 community on the Seattle campus. Tent City 3 provides safe, secure temporary housing to individuals and families. During its time on the UW campus, it will host up to 99 people.
Tent City 3 has a good record in the U District; including operating across the street from the UW in spring 2016 at University Congregational United Church of Christ, NE 45th Street and 15th Avenue NE. Its code of conduct includes:
- No alcohol, drugs, weapons, violence or open fires
- All prospective Tent City residents are checked for sex offender status. Individuals on the registry cannot stay.
- Tent City 3 removes Individuals who violate the code of conduct.
The UW and SHARE, which oversees Tent City 3, have signed an agreement setting out the responsibilities during the hosting, as well as establishing a safety and security plan.
Community feedback supports hosting
The decision to host came after a two-month process of securing public feedback. In response to President Cauce’s March 31 message, nearly 1,000 individuals e-mailed thoughts; dozens more attended the town hall meetings. By a 2-to-1 margin, e-mail responses favored hosting, and there was similar support at town halls. Faculty and departments expressed eagerness to incorporate service learning into curricula, and local elected officials and community leaders also support the effort.
The UW’s working group evaluated a full range of issues related to security, safety, health and sanitation to ensure the well-being of all community members. Several UW departments expressed interest in providing services to residents, such as health clinics, and hosting would present many service learning opportunities for students, as this UW MEDEX course exemplifies. After considering all aspects of hosting, including access to transportation and utilities for residents, the group established guidelines, which were incorporated in the operating agreement, including:
- No more than 99 residents may live at the site.
- Tent City 3 will provide 24/7 security in coordination with the UW Police Department.
- Prospective residents will be screened for sex offender status.
- The location will have water and sanitation services.
- The UW will not use any tuition or state taxpayer funds to host – only privately raised funds.
Experiences of other universities provide positive examples
Two other Seattle universities have hosted organized tent cities, incorporating issues related to homelessness into course curricula, providing residents with services such as health clinics, and holding events to raise awareness.
- Seattle Pacific University hosted Tent City 3 during SPU’s 2012 and 2015 winter quarters
- Seattle University hosted Tent City in 2005
Selected location is parking lot W35
The working group commissioned studied a wide range of sites, considering safety; transit access; logistics; privacy for residents; the need for a hard, level surface; and access for students and faculty who choose to participate in hosting-related learning opportunities.
Based on these criteria, parking lot W35 was the preferred location. Sally Clark, director of regional and community relations, met with faculty, staff and students from adjacent units, and consulted with organizers of the expanded UW childcare center that is located two blocks east. No issues arose that would preclude a portion of W35 from being used to host Tent City 3.