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Neighbors: Church to vote on homeless shelter

Posted by Geeky Swedes on April 29th, 2009

The congregation of Our Redeemer’s Church is planning to vote on whether to allow a controversial SHARE homeless shelter move into Calvary Lutheran Church without sex offender background checks, several neighbors tell My Ballard. They said they were informed of the new development by Pastor Steve Grumm over the weekend while they were helping church staff spruce up the grounds around the vacant Calvary Lutheran building (below) in Loyal Heights. Neighbors say the congregation-only vote is scheduled for May 7th.

We spoke to Pastor Grumm this evening at home. “We’re not going to share any information,” Grumm said, explaining that the church had decided to stop talking with the media until they have an announcement in “a week to 10 days.” He refused to confirm a report posted a few hours earlier that quotes the church’s own spokesperson confirming the vote. “What the situation is today changes tomorrow,” he said. “Everything now is conjecture.” Grumm said the church is still “in the midst of a conversation” with neighbors.

One neighbor who’s been actively involved in these conversations says a representative from the neighborhood will be attending the May 7th vote to present their position. “I hope the congregation takes into account the neighborhood views and concerns,” he said. “We’ve been working in good faith and hope they will, too.” Another neighbor, who also asked that we not use his name, expressed his frustration that the decision will be in the hands of the Our Redeemer’s congregation. “I was formerly against this shelter -– now I am steadfastly against this shelter,” he said.

Timeline of major developments:
February 19: Homeless shelter moving into Calvary Lutheran
February 26: Emotions run high at packed community meeting
February 28: Church postpones homeless shelter move, forms task force
March 20: Food Bank closes up soup kitchen at Calvary Lutheran
April 22: SHARE refuses to submit to sex offender checks

Tags: Ballard   Share

141 reader comments so far ↓

  • 1 Strawsy // May 1, 2009 at 5:16 am

    Chopper – don't be facile.
    You want shelter organizations to do warrent checks too?

  • 2 chopper_74 // May 1, 2009 at 8:08 am

    was that not clear?

  • 3 chopper_74 // May 1, 2009 at 8:25 am

    Kris needs to stop hanging out in Ballard, drinking with his pals on the metro benches from here to the u-dist. I met him several days ago, and yes, four years writing from one to one million is, well, one in a million. I was impressed when I saw the article. I'm not impressed that he's lost his way to Guinnes…does he need a map?

  • 4 chopper_74 // May 1, 2009 at 8:28 am

    Thank you 3_G. I mean no harm to your flock, honestly, God bless.

  • 5 gmer // May 1, 2009 at 9:26 am

    Why is that ridiculous? Yes they are illegal, but would you rather have an unlicensed driver on the road or someone who actually has a photo id to present when they are asked?

  • 6 gmer // May 1, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Ha thats fucking ridiculous, too many social services? Any in ballard have been around in one form or the other for decades. I can't really think of any that have been “added” save one homeless shelter that according to some people is going to destroy us. Ballard is huge and keeps growing. Compare the amount of social services to other areas of seattle per capita and we aren't even close. This is just a bunch more NIBMY bullshit that needs stop.

  • 7 Keep Seattle Sleazy // May 1, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Naaaa, we're just trying to protect the values of our homes.

  • 8 Keep Seattle Sleazy // May 1, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Great story but that doesn't explain why he can't find work to support himself. plenty of struggling writers do, they're called 'waiters'.

  • 9 chopper_74 // May 1, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    the illegal issue is ridiculous on many levels, first, they are illegal, right? So you give them a license, register them to vote, give them in-state tuition rates for our universities, give them public assistance, give them free medical via the ER's, and now, I get to choose between them driving with or without a photo?
    I choose that they become legal, or go home.

  • 10 Shane Dillon // May 1, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    I believe the people at the church all have their hearts in the right place, and that Steve Grumm probably is an alright guy. But I have sent him several emails now with out getting a single reply back. If you see him soon 3rd G Ballard native, please tell him to reply to my email and pop round my house for a coffee to meet my family and hear my concerns.

    Kindest Regards

  • 11 Neighbor // May 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Talk to your pastor! His communication on this whole issue has been terrible and now he's being like SHARE, going totally secret and refusing to listen to anyone.

  • 12 Bum Steer // May 1, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    With all the newspapers going under, there will be even more writers on the street.

  • 13 SPG // May 1, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Wow. Way off topic here and way off the truth. NO undocumented immigrants who aren't citizens have been allowed to vote. None. It is a federal offense and not one that is ignored. The GOP have been pushing this meme as a means to tighten up voter registration to make it difficult for any new voters to register because they know that younger people are not going to vote republican.
    I can get a driver's license in Japan if I take the class and pass the test, and I don't even have to do it in Japanese. Otherwise I can drive there for a year or two with my WA DL and a passport. I'd much rather have anyone who needs to drive here be able to do it legally, because we all know that if we don't allow it, it's going to happen anyway and then it's going to happen without a license, and by extension without insurance. Which would you rather have? People living here and driving with insurance and a license who've passed the driving test, or none of that and who if they get in an accident would be far more tempted to run off because they don't have insurance or a license?
    It sounds like you want to be an absolutist on the immigration question but if you get just a scratch below the surface the situation gets a lot more complicated. I'll agree that immigration policy as it is today is seriously flawed, but a mass arrest and deportation of 11 million people isn't a realistic option.

  • 14 scrWtape // May 1, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Dear Shane,
    Have you been part of a faith community before?
    Have you tried phoning the office?
    Have you tried introducing yourself after a service?
    I am glad that you have such high expectations of a pastor of a local congregation.
    But I would assume that someone such as you would make less of a passive effort to shame this man.

  • 15 chopper_74 // May 1, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Thanks for straitening me out friend.
    I am frustrated with how the issue is more polarizing and political than rational.
    Especially when resources and jobs are getting tighter, we need to focus on helping the legal first.

  • 16 Shane Dillon // May 1, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    I am actually a member of a church in shoreline (Shoreline Tabernacle) and I have introduced myself to Steve, and last year I tried to talk to him about the Tent City when it was there. Infact I reported to him the two instances where two of the inhabitants of tent city had to be removed from drunk Olympic Manor playground/park by the police.

    Many people go to churches some distance from where they live for a number of reasons (they may like the Pastor, may have been going to that church for years etc.) but I would never vote at my church in Shoreline for something that would affect where I do not reside.

    Feel free to call the church there if you don't believe that I am a member.

    All Steve had to do was send me a reply, either naming a time when we could meet, or even politely declining. Ignoring me is rude.


  • 17 giz // May 1, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    The common thread here is church leaders that decide to bring this to a community, but refuse to give the community a voice (and a vote) when the opionion is different than theirs.
    It is the height of arrogance to shut down reasonable discussions voicing legitimate concerns. Ignoring the neighbors simply heightens the issue and only further divides the church from the community.
    It is not unreasonable to require SHARE to run sex offender checks in exchange for space when they have already been doing such checks for free through King County Sheriff's (plus outstanding warrants) at their Tent City 4 locations on the Eastside.

  • 18 scrWtape // May 1, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    … is easy to kvetch about being treated rudely…. and not being listened to and the height of arrogance and all that in leiu of reasoned discussions. Honestly….. I don't beleive that you all have tried reasoned discussion. I think that you keep on changing your goals of what is important to ensure safety to the community. You like to be outraged over the injustice of the world. Poor babies.

  • 19 ethel // May 1, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    I have had background checks every time I volunteered in one of my kids' schools, for pete's sake.

  • 20 Shane Dillon // May 1, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Firstly, there has been no discussion. Any the goals have never changed from day one, it has always been that the vast majority of neighbors do not want registered sex offenders housed near them. It has never been a mission against homeless people, but simply against sex offenders.

    Please do not say that I am arrogant, unreasonable, or have changed my goals. To be fair, the church has changed their goals (you did ask for sex offender checks but Share refused!) and have not had discussions at all with neighbors.

  • 21 Shane Dillon // May 1, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    This letter was posted by someone (not me) on BallardNewsTribunes website.

  • 22 scrWtape // May 1, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    Exactly – you have never approached anyone in that church community or at Share in the spirit of discussion. It is very clear that you are scared. You want a shelter organization to somehow enforce the requirements that individuals convicted of level 3 sex offences register their addresses. You think that somehow if the shelter does this screening you will be safe. Geez – if you had been out and discussing and church going and talking and working to keep the neighborhood safe we wouldn't be here. Now that homelessness has risen to the point where you have noticed we are all supposed to jump and respond to your fears.

  • 23 Shane Dillon // May 1, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    I am not even going to try and respond because your comments make no sense. Share do screen at several shelters for sex offenders. If a registered offender rented a room and moved next door to me I couldn't stop it, but he would have to register and I would know he is there. Many of us are simply asking that the same rules follow people staying at the shelter that would be the same rules if they were to rent accomodation. We are not asking for anything else.

    Why does Steve Grumm say so many times he has spoken to the neighbors when he hasn't? It makes no sense.

  • 24 Shane Dillon // May 1, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    I have just called the church and spoken to a very nice lady about speaking to Steve Grumm about the shelter. She has promised she will get him to call me in order to arrange to chat.

    Hopefully he will call back so I can voice my concerns to him and leave it at that.

  • 25 scrEwtape // May 1, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    poor Shane – many things in this world are beyond sense. If you rented a room you would be required to register – it is the responsibility of the individual and law enforcement. It is not the responsibility of landlords or shelter organizations to do the work of law enforcement or probation officers. Even if some landlords do criminal background checks – most do financial background checks.
    And how does any of this make you safer or keep responsibility on individuals who have offended.
    What makes no sense is that you spend your time here harping on a pastor and congregation and an organization that has been around for a long time.
    What value are you bringing to the conversation? Did you just wake up and realize that work needs to be done?

  • 26 Shane Dillon // May 1, 2009 at 11:09 pm


    I just had a long conversation with Steve Grumm and he was VERY helpful.

    He basically had said what has been going on, and stated that he had talked exclusively with Share, and is going to issue a statement soon about everything after the 'vote'. He did say that many of his congregation have reservations about the shelter so there is a chance it may not happen.

    He is very concerned about the neighborhood, and is very serious about the possibility of sex offenders causing chaos in the community. He said he has looked at the 20 that would be housed, and when I asked if ANY of them were sex offenders he said 'No'.

    He put my mind at rest.

    I told him he needs to talk to the community as he talked to me, and he agreed.

    I just received this letter from Dawn Lawsen from WA Assoc. of Police and Sheriff's about the law in these situations and this is what she said :-

    “There are some specifically identified registered sex offenders that have residence restrictions, but it is not a general rule. The practice does, however, put the church at risk for liability suits. In addition, the parents will need to be made aware of the situation through notification flyers, especially for Levels II and III. I am sure that would result in the loss of business to the child care center.

    However, the risk is reduced if the shelter is only open when the child care center is closed.

    It sounds like meetings and discussions should be held with stakeholders. The community sexual assault program might also be helpful in providing information about keeping children safe.”

    Steve said the inhabitants of the proposed shelter are not allowed anywhere near (whatever that means) the shelter outside of the hours it is run (7pm to 7am).

    Actually Steve is an alright guy when you talk to him.

    I urge people to please call him on the number listed for Our Redeemers as I did.

    Kind Regards


  • 27 Bum Crisis 2009 // May 1, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    How would this arrangement pass the zoning for that block? It sounds like a motel business in a residential neighborhood. Some of the homeless are totally nuts and hard to deal with.

  • 28 Tired Dog // May 2, 2009 at 1:00 am

    I still find this response from Pastor Steve totally unacceptable for two reasons.

    1. The 20 men staying at the shelter could change every night. Unless they are screening for sex offenders they will not know when one is there.

    2. What does “he has looked at the 20” mean? Did he check their identifications against the state's record of sex offenders? This sounds like SHARE's policy of “looking them in the eye” to figure out if they are sex offenders. Far too often a person who looks fine is actually very dangerous.

    The stakeholders of the church need to be fully apprised of the risks they are subjecting their church and the community to by not doing this most basic check.

  • 29 Shane Dillon // May 2, 2009 at 1:15 am

    Give Steve Grumm a call and ask him.

  • 30 darnative // May 2, 2009 at 1:18 am

    I believe I read somewhere in all the endless blogs about this shelter that SHARE made a statement they were willing to do a trial-period of I think a few weeks, saying they would leave within 24 hours if there are any problems.
    If they manage to get in without the background checks, perhaps the neighbors in the immediate area can get an agreement signed by SHARE and Our Redeemers based on this? At least there would be something that could legally get them out should any problems occur. Just a thought…

  • 31 vlad the validifier // May 2, 2009 at 1:30 am

    R u validated now?

  • 32 chopper_74 // May 2, 2009 at 1:38 am

    ok, these are the same folks that had to be forcibly removed from Nicklesville?
    I believe it took a bit longer than twenty four hours.

  • 33 giz // May 2, 2009 at 2:02 am

    Beware of such an offer. Once they are in, they won't leave and their word in meaningless. Remember, these are the same people that told you they were unable to do sex offender checks because of the cost involved, when the knew King County was doing them for free at their Tent City 4 location for the past 5 yrs.
    When issues have come up in other communities, they skirt around it by saying that they can't control what their residents do outside the shelter.
    So basically if the crimes of their residents take place anywhere outside of Calgary, they are not responsible.

  • 34 chopper_74 // May 2, 2009 at 2:53 am

    So, crazy question. Will their presence from 7am to 7pm be more of the drinking on metro stops crowd? Bergen Park? I know that I'd read that they couldn't be within a couple blocks of the shelter during those hours.
    I know, they said, most will be at work…for what that's worth…

  • 35 chopper_74 // May 2, 2009 at 3:01 am

    We have been out discussing, watching, listening, pointing out the lies, working to keep this neighborhood safe.
    And we are still here where we are now…
    where have you been?
    Show up now, and attack the people with 'skin' in this game…bad form. You have no stake here.

  • 36 Squint Eastwood // May 2, 2009 at 4:57 am

    I was in 7-11 today when one of the homeless started ranting at the lady behind the counter. He called her a bunch of names and said that he owned the store and she was fired. They chased him out so he torment the neighborhood. He's a raving nutcase.

  • 37 chopper_74 // May 2, 2009 at 8:16 am

    some description of the individual would be most helpful…

  • 38 Tired Dog // May 2, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    If any kind of assault does occur, SHARE's promise to leave within 24 hours will be completely worthless to the church and the neighborhood. The church will face a massive lawsuit and could lose a huge amount in legal expenses. SHARE has very little in assets so it has almost nothing to lose in a lawsuit. They will conveniently walk away from the church and the neigborhood.

    SHARE seems particularly adept at finding good-hearted people, then feeding them bogus assurances and promises. When things go badly, the good-hearted people are left with the mess. If you want a preview of how SHARE will respond if things go badly, take a look at the letter SHARE wrote to the Ballard News Tribune. In it they write that if they cannot move into Ballard Calvary Lutheran, they will find a church that “who walks their talk”. Obviously, they are implying that Our Redeemer's is a church that does not walk their talk.

    The shelter has not even opened and yet SHARE is already publicly questioning Our Redeemer's integrity. Is that really the type of organization you would want to tie your legal fortunes to?

  • 39 Tired Dog // May 2, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    How about a review of the lies from Pastor Steve and SHARE:

    Lie #1 – In the original letter to the neighborhood, we were assured that background checks and sexual offender checks would be done on all participants of the shelter. Then, Pastor Steve backtracked and said he misunderstood SHARE about the checks.

    Lie #2 – SHARE says it doesn't do background or sexual offender checks at any of its shelters. Then, we discover that they have agreed to checks at shelters on the eastside.

    Lie #3 – SHARE says they couldn't possibly do sexual offender checks because it would be too expensive and time-consuming. Then, neighbors volunteer to do the checks for free. SHARE has no reasonable response so they start complaining that these checks are an insult.

    Lie #4 – Pastor Steve says he will not open the shelter without an agreement from SHARE to do sexual offender checks. Then, Pastor Steve changes his mind and decides he and SHARE can tell who is a sex offender by looking at them.

    Lie #5 – SHARE tells Pastor Steve that sexual offender checks are unnecessary because parole officers will inform SHARE if a sex offender is staying at their shelter. Unfortunately for SHARE, King County Sexual Offender Unit delivers the truth and tells a neighbor that the system does not work that way at all.

    I am sure there are more lies, but these the ones that come to mind and make it very hard to believe the shelter is going to be run in an honest way.

  • 40 enough // May 2, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    you obviously dont live in this neighborhood. but thanks for your insightful commentary.

  • 41 Free Ballard again // May 3, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    I met that guy too. He told me the story and showed me an article. Now I cant get rid of him. Every time he sees me in a public place he sits down with me, even if I am out with friends. Its very embarrassing

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