Regional & Community Relations

UW Hosting Tent City 3 in 2021 – FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Tent City 3?

Organized tent cities provide safe, secure places for homeless people to stay as they look for work and more permanent housing situations. Tent City 3 (TC3) began operating in 2000 and hosts up to 100 adults and children in one communal encampment. TC3 stayed at the UW in 2017 and has also been hosted by Seattle University and Seattle Pacific University as well as churches near the UW on a number of occasions.

When and for how long is the UW hosting the encampment?

The UW is hosting Tent City 3 for 90 days in Winter Quarter 2021.

Why the UW?

Hosting Tent City 3 responds to this community-wide crisis in a way that fits UW’s public mission, which includes a commitment to solving challenges of our city, state and world. Already, UW faculty, students and staff are engaged in a range of activities — from research on root causes and solutions to volunteering with organizations like the Tent City Collective — to address homelessness.

Why did the UW choose this location?

The UW hosted Tent City 3 at the same site (Parking lot W35) in the South Campus during its 2017 stay. At that time, the site was selected following a rigorous decision-making process that included extensive public input from two community town halls and over 900 individuals who emailed their thoughts. The UW chose to host Tent City 3 at this location again based on the success of the previous use of this site and criteria including campus operations, safety, proximity to utilities and access to public transit.

How is the UW paying for hosting the encampment?

The UW uses only private funds specifically raised by the student-organized Tent City Collective and Tent City 3 to host the encampment. The UW does not use any tuition dollars or taxpayer money for this mission-driven work.

How does hosting an encampment affect students?

Hosting TC3 creates transformative learning experiences for UW students and provides opportunities to make connections with teaching and scholarship. During the COVID-19 pandemic, UW Academic Affairs works to ensure meaningful engagement with the TC3 community that follows public health guidelines, such as allowing for physical distancing. Students wishing to support the encampment have opportunities to take part in experiential learning around housing and homelessness as well as volunteering through the Tent City Collective.

How does the UW handle safety and security?

The UW’s top priority is the safety of students, employees and Tent City 3 residents. Tent City 3 is an organized community with a strict code of conduct that prohibits drugs, alcohol, violence and sex offenders. UWPD and Tent City 3 partner on a security plan pertaining to the hosting that includes 24/7 site monitoring by TC3 residents in coordination with UWPD.

How does TC3 maintain proper sanitation and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Access to safe, clean and reliable housing for all Seattle residents is critical for addressing the spread of COVID-19 in the local community. Tent City 3 has been successfully implementing measures to maintain social distancing and sanitation standards within the encampment. In the event of a positive COVID-19 test, Public Health – Seattle & King County is responsible for contact tracing, quarantine and isolation. Tent City 3 also submitted a COVID-19 prevention and mitigation plan to the UW by December 1.

What’s the impact of an organized encampment on the U District?

An evaluation conducted following the UW’s hosting of TC3 in 2017 showed that the presence of the TC3 community had a positive impact on feelings of community safety, due to the security practices of tent cities and strict codes of conduct followed by their residents.

How do encampments fit into long-term solutions for homelessness?

Tent cities provide a critically important resource during longer-term work to end homelessness. In King County, around 11, 751 people experienced homelessness in 2020, about 40 percent of who lacked access to emergency shelter beds. Finding a safe place to sleep every night is exhausting and leaves little room for anything else. Tent cities provide a reliable, safe place for people to stay, allowing residents to focus on searching for work, finding more permanent housing, and other priorities.