No decision yet on homeless shelter checks

It’s been nearly six weeks since a sex offender was removed from the SHARE homeless shelter at the vacant Calvary Lutheran Church, and neighbors are growing increasingly impatient for a decision on whether new screening procedures will be put into place.

Since the level III offender was discovered and removed on September 12th, neighbors have urged Our Redeemer’s, which oversees the vacant church, to require that SHARE conduct sex offender background checks, something the homeless group has refused to do in the past. Neighbors gave Our Redeemers a petition with 146 signatures on October 1st, demanding that the church get back to them with a decision by October 11th. While the shelter has enacted a temporary ban on admitting new members, the church and SHARE have yet to say whether they plan to institute the checks.

Yesterday frustrated neighbors sent a press release to the media. “It’s baffling to me that commonsense background checks are not put it place immediately,” said Sheila, one of the neighbors quoted in the release. “I believe Our Redeemer’s is doing a great disservice to the children, daycare facilities and schools located in this neighborhood. Why have our concerns not been taken seriously?” Added neighbor Jim Tomlinson, “What’s the big deal about submitting to a background check? … (They’re) free, instantaneous and take two minutes to do. What’s so hard about this?”

We spoke with Pastor Steve Grumm of Our Redeemer’s Church for an update. “We are at the point now where the (church) council is grappling with the protocol question,” Pastor Grumm said. “They are in conversations with SHARE about that.” He hopes the council will have a final decision within the next couple of weeks. We’ll keep you updated.

42 comments on “No decision yet on homeless shelter checks”

  1. > See upcoming events in our Ballard calendar <

  2. Let's see what happens in the next few days. Thanks for reporting Geeky Swedes

  3. I don't understand why the church and its parishioners are okay with this level of liability. Do they realize that their church could be bankrupted if one of the sex offenders did anything?

  4. “Do they realize that their church could be bankrupted if one of the sex offenders did anything? ” I don't believe a great many churches are in business for profit.

  5. I think the point was that the church won't be “in business” at all if they are forced to sell their property to satisfy a civil judgment against them if someone who is a victim of a sex offender they house sues them.

  6. Yes, thanks. That is what I meant. I don't believe the church is out for profit, but I doubt they want to lose their property, etc.

  7. ok, i've never met the pastor, but this guy is really starting to bug me…

    quit dragging your feet and worry about establishing “protocal” and have the decency to listen to and HEAR your neighbors.

  8. It's the Seattle process, even the opinions of pedophiles and rapists have to be heard.

  9. eric –

    “He hopes the council will have a final decision within the next couple of weeks.”

    You might like to meet Steve some time instead of assuming things about him. He really is a very nice man.

  10. granted, i'm only speaking of him on this issue. and his involvemnet in this issue is definately bugging me.

    perhaps i should be more clear.

  11. I've met Steve many many times. I can't stand him. He's full of it. He is extremely nice on the outside but extremely self-serving and callous on the inside. This is of course only my personal opinion. There are probably plenty of people who don't like me and I'm wonderful so there ya go.

  12. There is absolutely no legitimate reason that this should still be unresolved after more than six weeks. Once again, SHARE has been running sex offender and outstanding warrant checks on residents of their Tent City 4 since 2004. They use the cell phone they have on site and make a call to the King County Sheriff's office who then run the checks INSTANTLY AND FOR FREE.
    There is no re-inventing the wheel here folks. The only logical conclusion for SHARE's steadfast refusal to run sex offender checks at this Ballard location is that they knowingly have sex offenders there. What else could it be? Why is it “un-american” to run checks here in Ballard when they are currently running them at Tent City 4 in Kirkland? Why?

  13. Why does it take an additional two weeks to make a decision on something that happened back in August?

  14. I think they should run background checks, and just not make them public. Use them so that any possible offenders know that SHARE knows they are there, but not make them public to justify a witch hunt.

    My understanding (which seems to make sense) is that sex offenders are much safer to have around when they're involved with a community in some way. I don't mean baby sitting your kids, I mean with a known address, participating in scheduled events, with people around to notice if they start to stray.

    I'd be way more concerned about the sex offender who gets kicked out, is homeless, and a virtual rogue sex offender with no one to keep an eye on them or notice if they disappear or start doing things they shouldn't.

    I think the known quantity is better than the unknown by a long shot. Of course, that church isn't next door to my house, and I don't have kids. However even if I did, I'd like to think I'd say the same.

  15. “I think they should run background checks, and just not make them public”

    Great, so SHARE will know which rapists to be careful of, we won't.

    “I'd be way more concerned about the sex offender who gets kicked out”

    Fine, then Redeemers has to put it to a vote whether the congregation wants to open a sex offenders shelter in residential Ballard….oh, and they'll need to tell their insurance company too, I imagine it'll do wonders for their insurance rates.

  16. There's no money for the professional extortionists of SHARE in running checks. Any increase in checking would reduce their numbers and their numbers are what they use when they pass their bottomless billing bowl around.

    You'd think people smart enough to organize and run a church would be smart enough to see through these crapulous scammers.

  17. I wonder how long, if ever, it will take for the Seattle Process to make sane people just vomit at the thought of it.

  18. Well, if they're registered with the church, then I would assume the cops would know as well (since it sounds like that's who runs the checks), and then maybe it will be posted on the sex offenders registry as well.

    Referring to them all as rapists is exactly the witch hunt mentality that should be avoided. Yes, of course some of them bear watching. As statistics show, most of them were likely convicted of violating a child/teen who knew them. The creepy stranger molesting your child is a much smaller percentage. It's like freaking out about latch releases on your car trunk because once a kid got locked in one and died, but not making your child wear a seat belt properly.

    I'd be curious to hear what the statistics are of anyone in this type of program being caught re-offending, and I wonder what that rate compares to the homeless totally off the grid offenders. I'd bet it's not as frequent as the fear mongers would like you to think.

  19. But Barbie, Redemeers and SHARE promised us sex offenders could not stay at the Church. THey told the neighbors this and it turned out to be a bold faced lie. Why? Because SHARE knew the church would not have been able to open a sex offenders shelter in the middle of a neighborhood.

    Have you even seen where this place is located?

  20. “I'd be curious to hear what the statistics are of anyone in this type of program being caught re-offending”

    That's irrelevant. SHARE and Redeemers promised to not let sex offenders stay at the church.

    Then a level 3 (the highest) child rapist moved in and we, the neighbors, were the ones who had to tell SHARE he was there because they didn't check. And remember, this offender was only caught because he was getting his mail forwarded to the church.

  21. Posting all the stuff that I've witnessed from him to form my personal opinion that he is “self-serving” in this situation and others would end up saying too much about him personally for such a public forum. Sorry.

  22. Having known some sex offenders personally (very unfortunate for me in my opinion) it is important for them to have community but it's also very important to keep them away from opportunity. It's also important for the public to know who they are – not for a witch hunt. Pedophiles and sexual predators try to “groom victims” and they don't look like “sex offenders”. They look like everyone else and they try to find opportunities to re-offend by befriending parents of potential victims, befriending victims, etc. Level III sex offenders are not the folks who are trying to help themselves – they have that designation because they refused treatment and do not think they have a problem. It is a huge disservice to potential victims and it is a huge disservice to the sexual predator to give them free opportunities to re-offend. Don't stick an alcoholic in a totally unsupervised shelter right next to a pub that gives away free beer – don't stick a level III sex offender in an unsupervised shelter in a residential neighborhood next door to little kids and a block from a popular park, a daycare and a gradeschool. It's a no-brainer.

  23. Maybe the church will kick out a sex offender if they discover him or her but one could move in next door and you can't do anything about that. According to the sex offender registry there are currently 13 sex offenders living in a one mile radius of the church. Do you feel you are safer knowing that? Do you think the neighborhood will be safer if the church won't let them stay there?

  24. Why not give the shelter space to someone that isn't a sex offender? If you have the choice (which we do) on who we help, why not help the ones that haven't committed terrible crimes?

    I don't get all this sympathy to sex offenders when there are many deserving people out there that need help, want help, and aren't people that legally cannot stay near schools, parks, or daycares.

    I really do hope the state passes the law that forces churches to follow the laws everyone else has to abide by and then there will be none of this bickering.

    The whole battle about the shelter, has now become a battle about having a shelter and not simply about a request to not have sex offenders housed in it.

  25. So why not invite more! Especially ones with no investment in the neighborhood, no rental lease, no mortgage, no id, no names, no addresses; I mean what could go wrong?

    “Do you think the neighborhood will be safer if the church won't let them stay there?”

    Do I think the neighborhood would be safe if they stop busing in totally unaccountable level 3 child rapists into my neighborhood every day? Yes.

  26. Eight of the neighbors just stood outside the church and handed out fliers to the congregation (if they wanted one) as they went in. It was great to hear everyone's opinions and also inform those that didn't know anything was going on.
    Everyone was very nice, so hopefully now something will happen. There is a meeting at the church this tuesday at 7pm so a few of us will probably go and hand out the same fliers then and next Sunday too.
    If anyone wants a copy of the flier, drop me your email and I can forward it to you.

  27. It's not quite as simple as that as it is a PDF made up of diagrams and illustrations, not just text.

  28. shanedillon,

    the “choice” your referring to was determined by 36 people of the congregation if i recall right. please correct me if i'm wrong. and that it was the choice of the church, not the community in which the shelter is running.

  29. Actually when the vote of the '36' was put forward in regards to SHARE refusing to do Sex Offender checks, the 36 voted against the shelter. However I was told that Steve Grumm vetoed the decision making the voting process pointless.

    If the church want to house offenders then there need to be certain safety procedures AND the church need to legally except liability if something should happen right?

  30. I received a copy of it – I was very impressed with it. I thought it was the best public notice on this issue I've seen yet – succinct, to the point, not extra verbage for folks to grab on to and twist the situation into a NIMBY one (which is isn't). I wonder if someone could upload it and post a url to see it?

  31. '”twist the situation into a NIMBY one (which is isn't). “

    ha ha. good one.

  32. Got one of your leaflets today on the way to Our Redeemers. It was a well done leaflet, and I appreciated the respectful manner in which it was offered to me. It was good news to read that almost 50% of the people surveyed appreciate what we at Our Redeemer's are doing to help the homeless of our City enough to indicate that they do not want the SHARE shelter at Calvary shut down. In many communities here in the County the support for shelters is considerably less.

    Hopefully, we at Our Redeemer's, working together with SHARE and community representatives, will be able to come up with a policy that will allow our congregation to continue serving a few of our City's homeless as well as alleviate the fear and anxiety of those who are objecting to this ministry or are simply upset by this one failure of the screening process in place.

    PersonallyI hope to see the day when such shelters, as the one now in place at Calvary, are no longer needed. To make this possible I trust that many, if not all, of us who are involved in this issue support the Housing Levy and contnue to engage our political representatives about reforming the Washington State tax system so that the City, County and State along with the Federal government will be better able to replace the low cost housing that has been destroyed by developers over the past four decades.

    There was a time in our country – not so long ago – when homelessness as we now know it – did not exist. Perhaps with some more involvement and efforts on the part of people like us across the land, we will be able to develop a society, similar to those in Europe, where people not needed in the economy are treated in a more humane fashion than what we are currently doing and failing to do here in the United States.

  33. Over 50% agreed to keeping the shelter ONLY if there was a sex offender check in place. Please re-read the leaflet, I was one of the people handing them out.

    96% said they wanted the shelter closed if there were no checks in place.

    All we are asking is for a sex offender check.

    We have yet to get that, or an answer at all from Our Redeemers.

    Please pressure your pastor to do the checks.

    I too hope that one day there is not a need for shelters.

  34. FYI: Any decision on how Our Redeemer's will respond to your demands, shanedillon, is ultimately a responsibility of the congregation's council, not a decision of the congregation's pastors.

  35. From my understanding didn't the congregation council vote against having the shelter when SHARE refused to do the Sex Offender checks back when it first opened and that Steve Grumm decided to do it anyway?

    I was contacted and received a letter from one of the council that is a neighbor of mine stating what I said above, and she at the time was very upset with Steve.

    I was only responding to your initial posting as it implies that more than half of the neighbors are for the shelter no matter what, when infact it is the exact opposite.

    If anyone else wants a copy of the flier, we shall be handing them out every week until we get an answer. It was back on September 11th, when I was told I would have an answer soon. It is now November, how long does it take to make a decision?

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