Tent City 4 Back in Woodinville

The Woodinville Unitarian Universalist Church will host the Tent City 4 community of about 100 people for 90 days beginning April 21.


Tent City 4, a homeless encampment that travels to churches and other houses of worship throughout the Eastside, will again be in Woodinville starting April 21. The (WUUC) will host the Tent City 4 community of about 100 people for 90 days.

“Hospitality and compassion are at the core of our religious tradition,” said Lois Van Leer, pastor of the church. “It is a privilege for us to once again host Tent City 4 and its occupants. Of course our wish would be that the causes of homelessness be eradicated and that there would be no need for tent cities. But until that time comes, we will continue to open our church home to those who are homeless.” 

WUUC is accepting donations to support the people in Tent City 4 in an effort to ensure the residents receive a hot meal every evening. Anyone interested in helping to plan, prepare, and serve a meal for up to 100 people can sign up by clicking here.

The church is also accepting donations of:

  • Sleeping bags 
  • Tents 
  • Personal hygiene items 
  • Warm clothing 

Tent City 4 has not been without controversy in Woodinville. In the summer of 2006, organizers sought to extend the encampment’s stay in the city of Woodinville, only to be met with an eviction notice that was appealed to the highest court in Washington.

In 2009, the State Supreme Court judged in favor of Woodinville’s Northshore United Church of Christ’s right to host Tent City 4, the city had sought to keep the homeless community from staying in Woodinville because there was development moratorium in place at the time.  The court's unanimous ruling declared the city violated the state constitution's First Amendment right to religious freedom.

Rather than seeking to impose reasonable conditions on the Church's project to protect the safety and peace of the neighborhood, the City categorically prevented the Church from exercising what the City concedes was a religious practice, wrote Justice James Johnson in the Supreme Court’s ruling for the majority. Since the ruling, Tent City 4 has continued to travel around the Eastside.

Jocelyn Campbell April 10, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Tent City 4 is only able to obtain 90-day permits at each location and I believe there is a wait time involved before returning to the same location, too. This makes the logistics of planning for host sites is a huge challenge. Most TC4 residents work and rely on bus transportation. Bus service is not that great out at WUUC, which usually makes WUUC less favorable for the residents. Despite this and because of the stringent time limitations placed on host sites, WUUC has now hosted TC4 multiple times.
Sue R April 11, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Yes, I remember the controversy over the last time this homeless camp came around. At first I felt compassion for these unfortunate people, but during their stay I learned that the protesters toward this camp had some valid issues that were not resolved. If you can imagine the trouble a pack of scouts at camp could raise (my husband knows first hand!) and multiply it to account for a 90 stay AND take away the responsible adult supervision, then you might imagine the natural course of events that unfolded around Wellington during their stay. Good neighbors became angry neighbors and good TC4 residents broke many of God's rules--it was chaos and regular 3-ring circus. I remember reading the story of a church volunteer who brought in a TC4 resident to clean her house and got cleaned out by TC4 resident stealing checks and forging signatures--that was too much. Or the story about emergency first aid and police being called when an inebriated resident decided to relieve himself on a disabled friend in wheel chair--ewww, sick! My question is has any church taken on serving the mission of compassionate assistance by hosting TC4 inside their church?
Jack Brand April 11, 2012 at 02:30 AM
This will be WUUC's 4th time hosting TC4. All previous hostings have gone without incident. As law enforcement has learned and testifies to at the public meetings for each one, TC4 is internally well managed and in their experience there is no rise in any crime rates due to their presence. There is more supervision and screening done for TC4 residents than there is for any random stranger driving through our neighborhoods. I live 5 minutes from WUUC and we have a low level of constant break-ins, mailbox thefts, and other crimes whether TC is around or not - THIS is the crime one needs to worry about. At WUUC we DO serve TC4 inside our church, every evening for dinner. Putting 75 tents inside a building is impossible. Let's remember that about a quarter to a third of TC4 residents served your country in the military. There are many ways to show compassion towards them, including coming on down to serve a meal. TC4 is a community which assists in getting residents back on their feet - most residents move up and out of being homeless in a few months. They deserve more than to be characterized as trouble-making criminals. I welcome them.
Pat Resende April 11, 2012 at 04:22 AM
To Sue R: They did not sleep inside our church, but they had a key to get in anytime they needed to. We gave them the key after they demonstrated that they would be responsible and considerate. We had no... repeat NO... problems with any TC4 resident at any time. They were good guests and I have not heard anyone express even a morsel of regret for having hosted them.


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