Emergency shelter moving to Ballard

The old Calvary Lutheran Church on 23rd Ave. and 70th St., which is currently for sale, will soon become home to a nighttime SHARE shelter for as many as 20 homeless men. “They came to us a week or so ago,” said Our Redeemer’s Pastor Steve Grumm, whose church merged with Calvary Lutheran last year. SHARE’s one-year arrangement with the Church of the Nazarene in West Seattle is expiring on March 1st, and the group was looking for a new home for another one-year run. “(They’re) a responsible and accountable group,” Grumm said, pointing out that SHARE pre-screens all the members, many of them have jobs and the shelters are only open at night. Once the doors close, members aren’t allowed to leave until the next morning. “They’re places where people have hit some crisis in their life,” he said.

Grumm said he spoke to other churches that also host SHARE shelters, such as St. John’s Lutheran on Phinney Ridge, and the reviews have been very positive. Flyers have been distributed to neighbors in the area, and all are invited to a meeting at Calvary Lutheran on February 26th at 7 p.m. The group is expected to start moving in on February 28th. If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact Our Redeemer’s Church at 783-7900 or SHARE/WHEEL at 448-7889. (Thanks Ivan for letting us know about the flyer.)

Homeless ‘huge issue’ at Bergen Place

We’ve all seen the occasional homeless person sleeping in the nooks and crannies of Bergen Place, but it doesn’t stop there, says Victoria Sangrey with Friends of Bergen Place. She told the Ballard District Council Wednesday night that in recent weeks they’ve been drinking beer and even selling drugs. “It’s a different issue being homeless and breaking the law in the park,” she said. Sangrey said the homeless are holding “parties” at Bergen Place as well as Marvin Gardens nearby (the small park with the Centennial Bell Tower), and she wanted to bring the issue to the attention of the neighborhood and the city.

After the meeting, we went down to Bergen Place to snap some photos. Two panhandlers on the Market St. side were dancing to music and aggressively asking people for money, and another panhandler stood on the northwest corner of the street. This is not the behavior that Sangrey is referring to, but it helps illustrate that we’re seeing more homeless in the Seattle area — 15 percent more over last year, according to a a count in December.

Homeless man stabbed over beer

Late last night, police say a homeless man was stabbed in the back after a fight over a beer at 46th and Leary. Officers say they later arrested two suspects inside a vehicle that resembled an ambulance in the 1100 block of Ballard Ave. Conditions inside were filthy, police say. You may remember, Ballard’s last murder occurred in March in a vehicle on 48th and Leary — an area popular with homeless people camping in their cars. In this case, the homeless victim is expected to survive. (Thanks, Izaak for the link!)

Coat & sock drive for homeless

Thousands of homeless men, women and children sleep on the streets of Seattle each night. With winter upon us one local businessman is helping with a coat and sock drive. This week is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week and photographer David Entrikin of the Outsiders Exhibit is asking for help to keep the homeless warm.

Entrikin started taking pictures of Seattle’s parks a few years back when he ran into a former pastor who had fallen on hard times and was living in a tunnel. The man inspired Entrikin to change his focus from parks to the homeless. Now, in a 3,000 square foot studio at 4611 11th Ave. NW, 1500 photographs are on display portraying Seattle’s homeless. The exhibit has been very popular with about 250 middle school students, teachers, homeless & homeless advocates coming to learn from Entrikin. Because of the popularity, he has decided to extend the exhibit through January 31, 2009. To donate to the coat and sock drive, please bring used jackets and NEW socks to the exhibit. (Photo courtesy: David Entrikin)

‘Rover 1’ close to finding first home

Back in September, the Ballard Homes for All Coalition unveiled Rover 1 at the Sustainable Ballard Festival — a hygiene station designed for homeless car camps. And tonight at the Ballard District Council meeting, organizers say they’re “very close” to identifying the Rover 1’s pilot location. “We are starting with a single site at a church,” said Jean Darsie. “We don’t have one designated, but we think we’re close.” Darsie said that it would consist of three to four cars “and at most six people.” The homeless who use the Rover 1 would be pre-screened, just like the tent cities, and a “part time organizer will manage the site in cooperation with residents” in the surrounding area.

A member of the audience raised the concern that not everyone is in favor of the idea. “What you have here, for the most part, is the choir,” she said to the council, and she asked what was being done to let the community know about the initiative. Ballard District Coordinator Rob Mattson urged those in attendance to talk to their neighbors and nearby businesses about the idea, and he underlined the point that although the city was “willing to give this a shot as a demonstration project,” it was not going to monitor or be responsible for it. Representative Mary Lou Dickerson, who supports the idea, emphasized that it was just one pilot site. “We’re talking about three to four cars,” she said.

We’ll let you know the pilot location as soon as it’s announced.

Homeless housing to open in Ballard

This old boarded-up home at 1753 NW 56th St. (map) is slated to be turned into a facility for the chronically homeless.

The United Way of King County says it has purchased the property along with the City of Seattle for the Compass Center to build a facility with 60 housing units for the homeless. It’s the first of three or four purchases that will add 150 to 200 units in the city. The United Way spent $800,000 for the land and the city used $1.2 million from the Seattle Housing Levy. The project is just in the beginning stages, but the United Way says that once the facility is up and running they plan on providing support services for the residents. We’ve contacted the Compass Center to get more information on the project and will update the story when we hear back. (Thanks Bryan for the tip!)

Adds Amy in comments: “I am an employee of the Compass Center and a resident of Ballard for 10 plus years. We never portrayed it as anything other than it is, a place for single homeless women to reside on a transitional basis (12-24 months) with counseling and support. We will demolish what is there now and build a new structure where people experiencing homelessness will reside and receive services. If any of you have any question as to how we help people develop community or what our projects do to property values, I encourage you to call us and tour our women’s program in the Cascade neighborhood, our Veterans program in Shoreline, our men’s program in Pioneer Square, our Family Program on 1st Hill, our day center in Belltown or any of our other 10 programs.”

Nickelsville moves next door to Magnolia

The homeless camp that was booted out of South Seattle has now set up shop in Discovery Park on “native land,” and Magnolia Voice is all over the story. Unlike other tent cities, like here in Ballard, Nickelsville has plans to eventually transform itself into a shanty town complete with wood walls and corrugated roofs with up to 1,000 residents. This should get interesting…

Update: Now they have 72 hours to move. Another showdown coming…

Homeless car camp hygiene station unveiled

As promised, the “Ballard Homes for All Coalition” took the wraps off a prototype of a mobile hygiene station at the Sustainable Ballard Festival. BHAC would like to deploy hygiene stations in homeless car camps of 3-4 vehicles each. There are an estimated 50 “homeless car campers” in the neighborhood.

Here’s the first hygiene station, “Rover 1,” which was built with the help of Sustainable Ballard and UW architecture students.

It’s essentially a traveling shower with a sink and toilet (to be installed).

Here’s an artist’s rendering of a homeless car camp. The fence would pull together and lock at night. The hygiene station would provide light inside.

Some Ballard residents wrote comments in our earlier story saying they’re worried where the camps will be located and the security of the surrounding neighborhood. This chart, posted at the festival, illustrates possible locations in church parking lots throughout Ballard (each location is made up of four dots). But no locations have been decided yet. Even the Our Lady of the Redeemers Church, which was floated as a possible site, said they would hold community meetings before considering allowing a car camp in their parking lot.

As for security, BHAC says car campers “will go through a screening process prior to being allowed to park at a host site.” And an outreach worker will visit each site on a regular basis. We’ll keep you updated on this story and let you know when the first location(s) are selected.

Update: See the map full screen for better detail.