SHARE: Sex offender screening ‘un-American’

Members of the homeless group that were planning to move into an overnight shelter at Calvary Lutheran Church have written a letter responding to the controversy over sex offender screening. The letter, faxed to My Ballard, explains that the SHARE group was “disinvited” from staying at Calvary after “some neighbors became hysterical and threatened the church if they let us come.” The SHARE members said the church asked them to change their screening process to begin checking for sex offenders, a requirement they called “un-American” and a result of “homelessphobia” discrimination.

(File photo of SHARE members with Our Redeemer’s Pastor Steve Grumm). “How many times have we had a problem with a sex offender at a SHARE shelter? NEVER. NOT ONCE,” the letter reads. “Sex offenders are not welcome in SHARE church shelters. We just don’t need a sex offender check during screening to move them on. The proof is in our well-run shelters and the complete lack of neighborhood problems where we stay.” The letter explains they believe they can find another church, temple or mosque that won’t require the checks. “We’ll be all right,” they write.

The controversy began when Our Redeemer’s Church, which oversees the now-vacant Calvary Lutheran Church, invited 20 members of SHARE to form an overnight shelter. Many neighbors in a community meeting demanded that SHARE submit to sex offender checks, a request that the church passed to SHARE, which as you can see, has refused to submit to them. Our Redeemer’s says it’s still working with SHARE in an attempt to come to a resolution.

Meanwhile, a My Ballard reader pointed out in comments on an earlier story that the city of Redmond has included a sex offender screening requirement in the temporary use permit for Tent City 4 (.pdf), which is made up of SHARE members. “Tent City 4 shall report any positive results of sex offenders or warrant checks to the Redmond Police Department,” the requirement reads.

The full letter from SHARE members follows below…

SHARE’s Calvary Lutheran Shelter Responds to Ballard Church Disinvitation

We, the men of Calvary Lutheran, wish to set the record straight about our community. The Seattle PI wrote about our shelter losing a future site, and said it was because SHARE was stubborn and wouldn’t check for sex offenders in shelters.

Sorry, but that’s not what happened.

We were there. Our shelter was invited to the Ballard Calvary Lutheran church based on our existing track record and rules. Some neighbors became hysterical and threatened the church if they let us come. This hysteria was based on fear. The fear was based on ignorance and as we call it — homelessphobia.

So the church asked us to change our screening process and begin checking for sex offenders in our screening. Why?

Our shelters have operated for 18 years in Seattle. We have 14 of them now. The two oldest have day cares and music schools How many times have we had a problem with a sex offender at a SHARE shelter?


That’s a fact.

So what’s really happening here? This is discrimination against homeless people, pure and simple. The church that disinvited us doesn’t do sex offender checks on everyone who goes to their church service — or their other programs. We have simply been targeted because we are homeless and some neighbors are fearful.

It’s also un-American. This nation was founded on principles like due process, privacy, presumption of innocence, and equality under the law. Discrimination, invasion of privacy, and presumption of guilt are un-American.

We know there is a church, temple, or mosque out there who walks their talk — one whose priority is compassion, justice, fairness, and treating others the way you would wish to be treated. We’ll be all right.

The real losers in all this are the Ballard neighbors who are trapped in their fears and ignorance. Now they will never know what the great majority of neighbors of the 14 other SHARE shelters have learned — we are good neighbors and benefit out host’s neighborhoods.

One Ballard neighbor suggested a 3 week trial period. We accepted the challenge, and offered to leave on 24 hours notice if there was a problem. If they’d accepted this proposal, they’d have seen how well we run our shelter. But our offer wasn’t taken up — the real goal of homelessphobics was simply to keep us out.

Many of us have skills, intelligence, compassion and understanding. We’ve just fallen on hard times. By disinviting us, the church as let these neighbors think that fear has won. If we had gone in with the sex offender checks, they would think that the only reason we were okay was because of those checks.

Sex offenders are not welcome in SHARE church shelters. We just don’t need a sex offender check during screening to move them on. The proof is in our well run shelters and the complete lack of neighborhood problems where we stay.

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

152 thoughts to “SHARE: Sex offender screening ‘un-American’”

  1. I really don't understand why SHARE are making this such a big deal unless the people they are trying to shelter here are high level sex offenders.

    Just because something hasn't happened yet, it does not mean it will never happen.

    “Prevention is better that a cure”

    What would they then say if something terrible did happen? – Probably something like “with all the shelters over all the years we have been running we have only had one incident.” Well that is not good enough.

    The checks are fast and free, so what is the big deal?

  2. Thank you Geeky Swedes.
    I'd like to say, background checks couldn't be 'more' American, I'm pretty damn sure that we invented them…if not, I'm sure that it will be attributed to the Nazi's…lol.
    This Share organization needs to be challenged to wake up, I don't see any victims here, I see malcontent losers, expecting us to hand over our neighborhood to them.
    Sure, they feel entitled…'nice town…we'll take it', and btw, don't expect any thanks, that too must be 'un-American'.
    As far as the church goes, they have to deal with their role in this. I'd prefer that they quit trying to take the easy way out, play enabler, appease what-ever they feel they are lacking, because they are a danger to this community if that mentality continues.
    I challenge that church, and any others that are so inclined to cave into these whack-jobs, to focus on productive, permanent solutions. Or, you really will be part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  3. Even if the sex offender issue wasn’t a topic, the neighbors of the church should have the right to say no to a hobo motel business. The neighbors have an investment in the community and are responsible citizens. The transient population has mental and substance abuse issues that make them questionable characters. What’s so hard to understand?

  4. SHARE has been running the checks for Tent City 4 (at no cost to them) through the King County Sheriff's Office since 2004. Eastide cities that have played host to Tent City 4 have required it as part of their permits. In addition, SHARE's Tent City 4 assurres their host churches that they do these checks “voluntarily” .

    Even with these checks required as part of permits, there is countless documentation via police reports that SHARE is not always running these checks. There were several recent cases in Mercer Island in which neighbors discovered THREE Tent City 4 residents that were living in the camp with outstanding warrants. The names of the individuals with outstanding warrants was turned over to the Mercer Island Police. The MI Police verified that this information provided by neighbors was ideed accurate and it resultled in the arrest of two of the three individuals. (one individual was tipped off in advance of the police coming).

    This information I am providing can be verified via police reports through the MI police department.
    *Case # 2008-00008589 on 8-19-2008
    Tent City 4 resident living there with an outstanding FELONY NO BAIL DOC ESCAPE FROM COMMUNITY CUSTODY WARRANT (OCA #953719)
    It is noted on the police report that officers were cautioned as the Subject was a “VIOLENT OFFENDER.”

    *Case # 2008-00008558 on 8-18-2008
    Subject had an outstanding Seattle Municipal Court warrant (warrant #990327262, $500 theft)

  5. I respect the homeless, but any “group” which operates in a neighborhood like the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, and all businesses, offer background screenings for the safety of their members and customers and neighborhood.

    Sex offenders have to resgister their currect place of resident, yet many register as “transients” to avoid being tracked, and therefore when it comes to a homeless group, it seems only natural that the ONE major requirement be a sex offender check.

    No one wants any other personal information or history – this is a reasonable request.

  6. Sounds like the church and neighbors are trying to compromise on the issue and that by having background checks the neighbors are more comfortable trying the shelter there. That is their compromise. Is it only the neighbors who have to compromise? What about SHARE's meeting them halfway?

    In my view, there is little risk to someone w/o a sex offender record being checked. They get checked, no record, they move in. However there is a huge risk to children and neighbors who have someone with this record living nearby.

    I live near Discovery Park and if SHARE is the group who recently camped out there in the fall, (and I'm pretty sure they are) — there were some problems, police were called on numerous occasions, and people had to be removed from the encampment. Yes, SHARE said they acted quickly when incidents happened but preventing incidents would be better.

    I am not insensitive to the needs of the homeless, but the needs of families, homeowners, neighbors and nearby businesses should be considered as well. One shouldn't trump the other.

  7. I thought I read somewhere on Share/Wheels on website that they did background searches even before this incident.

    I'm sure the structure of Share/Wheel has been doing great the past years without incident. But what does that mean to the neighborhood they are entering? People who bought homes to be in a safe neighborhood, to come home at the end of the day and feel safe. These people come in and say “can we camp out here near your church, we don't want to cause any harm, we just want to be able to live.” Sure it's fine, but you do want to know who these people are before you give an answer.

    If a sex offender buys or rents a home in this neighborhood, they have to register with the state/city. So if your homeless, and mind your own business in this tent community, your exempt? I'm not saying any of the share/wheel members are sex offenders, in fact I'm betting none of them are. But if they have nothing to hide, then I don't see the problem besides that of pride.

    To my mind, if I'm entering a community, not offering anything, but asking (nicely mind you) a lot, your going to have to put up with some scrutiny. I face clients every day asking about my business history, and never do I say “Well, you should know my reputation already, we've always completed our jobs.”

    Like I said, I'm sure all the members of Share/Wheel are on the up and up, and have not had any incidents. Though these members have to be a little more understanding on what they have to do in order to get what they want.

  8. A quick check of the King County sex offender registry shows 462 individuals listed as “HOMELESS.”

    Like it or not, these are the facts and as citizens and tax paying members of this community we absolutely have a duty not to ignore this.

    SHARE's vehement refusal to run the checks here in Ballard when they are running them for their Tent City 4 begs the question-WHY?

    They claim in their “statement/letter” for this article that it is “un-American” yet they have been running them for Tent City 4 since 2004?

    Smoke and mirrors. One can reasonably conclude that their steadfast refusal to run the checks here is Ballard means they have something to hide.

  9. This group is incapable of compromise, they see no reason to do so. They are convinced that they have the moral high ground, after all, they are the 'downtrodden' the 'victims' the 'compassionate ones' as well, unless you see what they do to neighborhoods, parks, and churches. Expecting better of them is indeed 'un-American'…I don't see how even if they 'promise' to make checks, and report on these checks to law enforcement, that they can be believed. The lies are too numurous, the excuses are too grand, and the desire isn't in them to be responsible to this, or any community. They've had to be forced to do the right thing every time…maybe that's why they don't pay rent?
    Criminal background checks cannot be excluded, community service cannot be excluded, Employment or education cannot be excluded, rules for occupancy cannot be excluded. The sooner they get that, the better off they'll be. And perhaps, they'd be welcomed, anywhere.

  10. Just today a man was arrested for the UW shooting that occurred on Friday.

    From the Seattle Times “…detectives working the case learned that the alleged shooter is a transient from Texas who frequents U District shelters, hangs out in the neighborhood…”

    I am certainly not suggesting that all or even many homeless are likely to be violent or dangerous in Ballard. However, I think that as a community and as taxpayers, we deserve the right to protect ourselves with simple background checks that could help prevent dangerous people with no stake in Ballard from moving into shelters here.


  11. I don't know if anyone here has time to read, or understand…..we are all too busy posting, sometimes the same comments on multiple threads and or blog sites.
    I understand the need for public safety. I also can see, every day, the very evident need for shelter and safety for individuals. I was raised to beleive that each of us has a civic responsibility to create safe communities for all. Also, that there is a potential for redemption in even the most insignificant and ugly soul.
    The continued harping on the topic of criminal history checks avoids the deeper topics.

  12. ok, then, bring back the Queen of England…background checks were the least of our concerns then…all of us were in the same boat, you certainly can't use that as an excuse for those who we are currently concerned about, with good reason, I'd add.

  13. i didn't have to submit to any background checks when i moved to ballard.

    the idea that if we have nothing to hide we should welcome our neighbors to pry into our records is probably what they felt was un-american.

  14. Soldiers from Ft Lewis have been caught mugging frat boys, may have given drugs to and cause the death of a 16 year old and one has been discovered to be a pimp. I say we need to close Ft Lewis and ban soldiers form the streets of Seattle. “I am certainly not suggesting that all or even many soldiers are likely to be violent or dangerous” Sound familiar Pub?

  15. Seems to me that the creators of this site want to be a platform for a few radical reactionaries. Maybe the posters are actually the site owners. Heck I bet they aren’t even more than a 10th Swedish like most ‘Scandinavians’ in Ballard.

    This issue is SOOOO worn out.

  16. I really don't understand SHARE's responses. It seems like they are talking out of both sides of their mouths. First they claim to be working on an acceptable policy with neighbors, then they print a letter like the one above refusing to take part in any policy regarding background checks. Out of one side of their mouths they characterize background checks as being “un-American”, but willingly support them being conducted in Redmond.

    The SHARE representatives are doing everyone a disservice — the neighbors, the church, and the homeless who could really use a place to stay. I'm, frankly, stunned at SHARE's hostility and disingenousness.

    Background checks are routinely used for many situations. I had to submit to a criminal background check in order to be accepted as an after school tutor for… kids living in a transitional shelter (a really good one, run by an excellent organization). I had no problem with that. It took 10 minutes and I was cleared and ready to start my tutoring.

  17. “willingly support them being conducted in Redmond.” That's a lie, of course, I don't want to offend you. Not the issue, the refusal to take ANY responsibility for whom they choose to house, is.

  18. was it a tent at a church? Nope, it was a rental or homeowners application, or agreement, still not the issue. Nice try, and welcome to Ballard…

  19. Well, they may not be happy about it, but it appears that SHARE is, in fact, submitting to the background checks at Tent City 4 in Redmond, right? I'm only making the point that in one venue (Redmond) they are complying with the community's demands, while, at a second venue (Ballard) they are refusing. Bottom line, they are being hypocrites. The same standards should be adopted in all venues. People trust and respect consistency.

  20. It's a conspiracy, I tell you Sweet Rose. Anyone who can't accept the differently-housed for their alt lifestyle is a total reactionary. Probably a fascist.

    I moved to Ballard because I thought EVERYONE was tolerant. Now I know they are all fascists demanding the differently-house get checked. What's next, reactionaries, send them to Guantanamo?

    Blogging = genocide

  21. Oh, and I'm no shill for anyone, and more American than anything else. Tho, I was raised on lutefisk, if that helps your head any…yeah, still disgusting…

  22. Correct, like I said, didn't want to offend, just wanted the truth to be known…They fought it, yet had to comply, and they are still fighting it.

  23. Sweet Rose,

    No, it does not sound familiar. It is apples to oranges. Your example fails.
    I did not suggest banning anyone from anywhere. I certainly didn't say ban a whole group of people from the streets of Seattle. I did recommend background checks that are already in place in other communities.

    In fact, soldiers are subjected to background checks. It is not a guarantee that they will live exemplary lives. (As proof by some soldiers' behavior.) However it is a good general filter.

    By the way…is the military “unamerican” when it issues background checks?

  24. FEMA Camps are the answer – California is rounding up the tent city people and forcing them into FEMA camps. That way they can be searched, screened for criminal backgrounds etc. No guns allowed, no monkey business and no drugs.

    That is what we need here. You wanna hang around outside creating crime? Well, there is a price to pay. Watch how fast these lost souls, suddenly have family members they can call from 711, rather than the meth dealer.

    They have families. But, the rule is probably-

    “You can come home, only if you put down the crack pipe, beer and stay out of jail…”

    Two days in a row in Market Street the same mean looking transient has said to me..

    “Hey, I am not going to lie to you. I just got outta jail and really need a beer.”

    Anyone else deal with this scumbag? I gave him money once because he got so close, he looked like he might swing at me if I said no.

    He is a pretty big guy with sandy blonde long hair.

  25. A disservice indeed.

    If SHARE is concerned about the homeless they serve and in need of a new shelter for them, then they would not put up a stink about running sex offender checks at the request of the church willing to give them shelter.

    It's all about precedent here. SHARE has been running the checks for their Tent City 4 shelter since 2004.

    The community of Ballard deserves the same and should accept nothing less.

    The hypocrisy of SHARE was only exposed by diligent citizens who took the time to research and present the FACTS. Unlike SHARE, this community was able to back up their claims.

    Unfortunately for SHARE, their web of lies is unraveling and their only defense is to attack the messengers.

  26. Doesn't SHARE run the shelter at Trinity United Methodist Church at 65th & 23rd? If so, that shelter is in the same community and doesn't require background checks. It is also self managed and unsupervised by church personnel (ie no church members or staff spend the night). If we are going to get all upset about a potential shelter at Our Redeemers, perhaps there should be concern about an existing shelter at TUMC?

  27. Last year the Church @85th and 24th hosted a homeless tent city . My son attends a nearby school ,after school one day he went to use the restroom on campus, he was in a stall when a man entered the stall next to him(this is an elementary school) he got nervous so he left that stall and moved one over ,the man followed, he then ran out of the stall,out of the bathroom and down the hall where he found a classmate,the man quickly came out behind him and exited the building. I can't prove nor do I want to that this was related to the tent city but I
    don't think this was just coincidence either,I don't want bash on the homeless but there are some really sick people in these camps and shelters that we “the public” need to be aware of.

  28. Hooray to the church for listening to the Ballard community!
    And to SHARE: get off your high horse. This decision was NOT based on ignorance. On the contrary, we all see homeless people every day and based on those observations, we chose not to welcome more homeless into our community. That's *our* choice to make–your members, by definition, do not have homes in our community / are not part of our community.

    And spare me the claim of un-American. America was also founded on the principle of hard work and bootstrapping yourself into a better life. It's called the “American Dream”; look it up. Rather than plead and threaten for handouts, I recommend you instead look inward and build your own refuge and resources.

  29. Listen, if you live in a house, rented, or you buy it, and you are a registered sex offender, YOU HAVE TO REGISTER.

    This is a loop hole where if you are registered as homeless (ie. in a shelter), if you are a Sex Offender you do not have to register your address. This is crazy!

    Stop saying 'When I moved here I didn't have to have any checks.' If you were a sex offender and moved in any place (other than a shelter) you WOULD HAVE TO REGISTER.

    Not everyone can be rehabilitated.

    It is a difficult and horrible situation, but don't vilify the people who live in Ballard and are against this whole sex offender shelter. We don't hate the homeless, we just don't want possible rapists and child molesters away from our families.

  30. You have every reason to be concerned.

    On 1/5/2008 a Tent City 4 resident was evicted from the camp and turned loose into the neighborhood after making threats to other Tent City residents and taking a stick to the church mailbox. (Kirkland Case #2008-00000554)

    This same former Tent City 4 resident then went on a rampage at two Seattle area schools on 4-10-2008. (Case # 08-1-03681-9 SEA) The incidents occurred at the Kidus Montessori School and Lake Washington Girls Middle School. The Subject assaulted one man during the rampage by throwing a brick at him (which shattered the windshield of his vehichle after hitting him in the arm) and swinging a metal pole. The Subject first tried to enter the Lake Washington Girls Middle School when he approached one of the staff inquiring if it was an “all girls school” and WANTING TO USE THE BATHROOM. When he was refused entry he threatened to “KILL ALL ***** PEOPLE.” The Subject then disparaged African American staff at the adjacent Montessori School, where many students were present. On the “request for bail documents” it is noted that bail was requested and grantned at $250,000.00 because the subject was determined to be a “SUBSTANTIAL DANGER TO COMMUNITY SAFETY”. The Subject had prior felony convictions.

  31. As a practical matter, where do the opponents think sex offenders (that is, people who have already paid their debt to society) should go? Seems nothing more than a bunch of NIMBY-ism and homless-phobia.

  32. ok, in the manner of public servant, the poster meant; “we just want possible rapists and child molesters away from our families.” I took the liberty of excluding the word “don't”…I hope that was the posters intent…

  33. ok, for you just waking up, there are already statutes, hard fought and earned statutes, that limit where such a person can 'legally' live. The 'homeless' exception is the 'only' exception, and it is being abused…along with the rest of us.
    Share snickers about it…f'em.

  34. S, that's not the point. It's not about finding somewhere else to move them. It's about simply KNOWING there is a sex offender in your neighborhood. That's our right, and it's one protected by law. Everyone needs to follow the law.

    I have a sex offender living right across the street from me. I would never think of forcing him to move. No way. In fact, he was here first. But I know about it, and that's the point.

  35. The possibility of sex offenders taking up residence in the neighborhood was only one issue of many raised about the future of the church property. Neighbors have already had various experiences with the homeless population in Ballard. It’s not just the possibility of untraceable convicted sex offenders living in that building, it’s a whole list of other problems.

  36. Sounds like aggressive panhandling, which is a crime. I'm big enough to tell them that to their faces and let them know they're thiiiiis close to going right back in if they don't back off.

    Aggressive-panhandling laws typically include the following specific prohibitions:
    confronting someone in a way that would cause a reasonable person to fear bodily harm;
    touching someone without his or her consent;
    continuing to panhandle or follow someone after he or she has refused to give money;
    intentionally blocking or interfering with the safe passage of a person or vehicle;
    using obscene or abusive language toward someone while attempting to panhandle him or her; and
    acting with intent to intimidate someone into giving money.78

  37. Knock it off? What? Not agreeing with you? Sorry there is no law of “the American Dream.” Please show me where and how this country was founded on this principle. This country was founded on money. You are living some never existed 50s Beaver Cleaver dream chopper and you call me ignorant?

  38. OK Board there are three listed sex offenders at the shelter. Now you know so what will you do? 90% of sexual assaults on children are committed by family member or friends of the family.

  39. It's a shame too. I love that building. It's very mid-century “church like” and yet very Viking at the same time. Fitting for Ballard to say the least. I hope something good comes to that building…

  40. Agreed, I like the building, I'd like to see it co-opted as a community center, or day care, or basically anything other than a Share squatting ground.

  41. “This decision was NOT based on ignorance. On the contrary, we all see homeless people every day and based on those observations, we chose not to welcome more homeless into our community.”

    Unfortunately, there IS ignorance here. You may see people whom you consider to be homeless every day but there are a lot of people who are homeless who do not want to be seen because of the stigma attached to being homeless and for security reasons because it is dangerous to be living on the street or in your vehicle. These blog posts make it clear why they would feel that way.

    Many people who are homeless make every effort to keep up appearances in order to maintain their self respect and also to avoid the contempt that is meted out to many. As one person said to me, I am the same person but I am viewed differently if people know I am homeless than if they don't.

  42. They cannot live legally within several hundred yards of any school, any daycare, or any park where children are present,. For shame, they have to walk there to get there kicks…they also have to register their address, so that the neighbors, by law, can be notified. If they register as homeless, and, they are accepted by the Share network, the statutes loose their effectiveness. We therefor are not being protected as required by law.
    And really, I resent having to answer your questions, when all you offer is more drivel, and refuse to answer any, like,

  43. My impression is that the citizens of Ballard have gotten fed up with the increase in aggressive panhandling, drunken/drugged/crazy street people, and petty crime. When it was a couple guys here and there, it wasn't a big deal. Now that the look and feel of the neighborhood is changing from the invasion of bums*, people are becoming more concerned and speaking up.

    *Not all homeless are bums, but a lot of these bums are homeless. Most of these bums will never set foot in this shelter, but unfortunately for SHARE they are what the neighborhood sees and associates with a homeless shelter.

  44. Sweet rose would say, yes. Not because they do background checks…and then are accountable to the public as well, but because anyone that does anything is really un American…right? Sweet Rose?
    Yeah, hard to get an answer from this one…

  45. I can echo that, I was homeless for a few years…I'd prefer that no-one would ever have considered me to be homeless, but it did teach me a lot, like, not to act homeless. Now a days, it's like some badge of honor…sheeesh…I coulda been a contender!
    Seriously, was homeless, seriously, had to work my ass off to change that.
    What else can I say, I love my mother too?
    Fact remains, we expect there to be transparency, and now, from a neutral source, don't trust SHARE…

  46. The headline here mischaracterizes the point of the message. It's not the checks that are un-American. It's the guilty until proven innocent mindset of the opposing neighbors.

    Be honest, even with sex offender checks, drug tests, fingerprints, DNA samples, and horoscope signs, many Ballard residents would be opposed.

    I expect better editorial work than this from MyBallard.

  47. If the church decided to open lawn mower and Vespa repair shop, the neighbors would probably oppose that too. Is that block zoned for a business? Probably not.

  48. Just to ensure people reading this understand a bit more of the larger issue – within two blocks of this church there is a food bank, a homeless shelter, a soup kitchen and the vacant church itself hosts a soup kitchen though now only one day a week – until recently it was four days a week. i do not want any more services in my neighborhood. until recently, salmon bay park was unusable by families due to the homeless taking up residence – drunk, loud, fighting cursing. since the closure of the 3 day soup kitchen at the vacant church, the transient population of this park has dropped to nearly nothing. Except on Mondays of course. This is a residential neighborhood and we, the neighbors of this vacant building moved here because it is quiet, safe and clean. The vast majority of problems we encounter are directly due to the homeless people that come to our neighborhood to use these free services. Enough. I truly believe the city of Seattle would not have such a problem with homelessness if it didnt make the area such a welcome place for people who do not want to live by the rules like the rest of us. The vast majority of these people are professionally homeless and i do not want them in my neighborhood any longer.

  49. It's hardly un-american to request that a building typically used for church services, and being turned into a homeless shelter for men be scrutinized. The area is full of kids, and families…and becuase they cannot be within a certain distance of children, as parents we have a right to know. Those of you who insist this is discrimination aginst homeless…did not listen to the concerns..and they were sex offenders being unknowingly exposed to childre, drug addicts and drunks being out of control and potentially a hazard to themselves and to the neighbors. I donlt think there is any in our community who does not realize that everyone needs a leg up,especially in this economy, and want to do what they can to help…but the presentation of this plan was not going to turn out successful for anyone. There were offers to do background checks for free, as well as drug one seemed intersted…we coudl have had a group of men who were in a better position to be helped, but it was all cancelled instead of modified.

  50. “The area is full of kids, and families…and because they cannot be within a certain distance of children, as parents we have a right to know. ” EVERY place has kids. They can be around kids just not have a permanent residence near a school or a daycare. Besides there are more dogs than kids in Seattle and in Ballard. There are more kids in fact in White Center than there are in Ballard. Therefore Ballrd and neighborhoods like it are BETTER places to have shelters than other areas if your logic is used.

    You are twsisting the reality

  51. Rose, please, be a reasonable individual, this isn't about pot, the 60's 70's or 80's, it's about today. If you can't speak to this today, just be silent.

  52. Yup Marie, a sales slogan alright. No immigrant ever came to this country and bettered themselves. Just look at all those Chinese and Koreans bumming around Seattle begging for money.

  53. I would much rather have a teenager smoking pot than someone shooting up, taking a leak in my driveway and then sleeping it off in the park. I probably know the teenagers parents and can easily make a call to them if need be. Unfortunately we have gotten used to people using our yards as restrooms, bedrooms and drug dens and now, when it has gotten out of hand – we become the bad guys?

  54. O.K. Rose, why don't you go to a third world country or somewhere in the Middle East and see how much of either of those things you have.

    We live in the greatest country in the world. It is the land of opportunity for ALL. People die trying to cross our borders to come here for a chance to work hard and have a better life.

    We learn during hard times to be thankful for little things, that are, in fact, big things. Let's remember that the worst off of us in our worst of times have it better than many in the world in their best of times. ( a quote given to me by a dear friend)

    No matter the size or shape of your glass, nor the liquid within, it's half full.

  55. Actually, it is impossible to me 1/10th of anything. I'd say most Scandinavians in Ballard are half to one quarter. In fact, I believe the Geeky Swedes to be…from Sweden, in fact!

  56. Sweet Rose – just wondering if you have young children?
    This whole discussion is scaring the crap out of me. The law is the law. Why are you fighting so hard FOR a loop hole?

  57. I use Salmon Bay Park all the time, live near it, and don't feel that the homeless there are much of a threat. Nobody takes up residence there from what I can tell, just sleep there sometimes. I did feel odd about 1 or 2 people occasionally, but gave off strong enough “I am watching you” vibes that they seemed to notice, and left me alone. Perhaps those homeless folks there are aware of being in the middle of a residential neighborhood, and feel a bit exposed-anything goes down, and it's easy to spot them. In urban areas it's easier to melt into the street scene, whereas Salmon bay Park makes them stand out noticeably. I see the Tai Chi class there sometimes, that seems more representative of what goes on in the park, so I'm surprised at the perception of unusability. Honestly, it seems to be a great unofficial off-leash area which technically is illegal, and that's really nice for the neighborhood dogs having a wonderful time. I have seen the cops rout drinking kids, taggers, and teenagers past closing in the 10 plus years of being nearby, and that seems to be what the police deal with there more often than not. Just offering some of what I've seen over time.

  58. Regardless of the sociological issue that underlies this story, there is indeed Washington State Law that makes SHARE's argument moot. Pursuant to RCW (Revised Code of Washington) 9A.44.130, anyone with a fixed address or not is required to register as a sex offender. In section 3b, of this code these offenders are required to provide where they will be staying in lieu of a fixed address. Thus, the communities request to verify the information already legally required by State Law would seem to be reasonable from a legal perspective.

  59. That's the point I made with my original post. It's not just about the sex offender screening. This article, and especially the headline, frames the discussion as if everyone would db OK with this arrangement if only they screened the residents for sex offenders.

    That's just not true and everyone here knows it.

    What's true is that many people, like yourself, just don't want any more homeless people in the neighborhood and will oppose any and all services which may encourage more of them to come to Ballard. Even though I don't think it's fair to judge all homeless people based on the unsavory actions of some, I can totally understand the “we've had enough” argument. I won't pretend that I'm never frightened of the people I walk by on the sidewalk every day.

    All I'm saying is that the headline was sloppy journalism. The un-American comment was in a broader context than the implied quote.

  60. I don't know about the “true American tradition” but I do know that sex offenders are required to register their residence – and registering as “homeless” gets one off the hook – including a homeless person that stays in a shelter. I don't see what's unamerican about following the law and screening those that will be staying in a fixed residence against the level 3 offender list.

  61. But if you were a convicted sex offender you would have been required to register your residence. Background checks and checking against the Level 3 sex offender list are two different things. I believe the last compromise was to check against the sex offender list – not do full background checks.

  62. One of the main differences (off topic of background checks) is that church is still used as a church and staffed during the day. Many neighbors at the meeting voiced concern since the building on 70th is vacant and the current use as a soup kitchen didn't have a lot of oversight.

  63. guilty…
    what a story…
    and what a picture…

    story, I got this…

    “I didn’t witness a single instance of aggressive panhandling. The reason for this? The city passed laws against such conduct and has enforced those laws. If it can work over there, it can work here.”

    thanks friend.

  64. All you people need to settle down. Remember, sex offenders are people too. This entire conversation reeks of sexoffenderphobia. They are just people, well, maybe people with over active glands, but just people. This could even be glandphobia. All people have the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and small children don't they? They deserve assistance, counseling, free food, prepaid credits for strip clubs (just like Katrina victims), and a house in Ballard. I think many people on this forum need to open their hearts, search their souls, and be sent to reeducation camps. Remember, but for the grace of God, we could all be sex offenders. Come on now, get your minds right! Please open your hearts and let the corrective raping begin.

  65. Yes, a tight job market. That's just what I was thinking while pumping gas at the Shell at 15th/Market yesterday afternoon watching the 3 ladies across the street swill malt liquor and lift up their skirts at each other. If only they had a job, I thought, they they wouldn't be sitting in a pile, totally ****-faced and flashing their back sides at everyone passing by.

  66. Yes, the individual is required to report, and that information is made public.
    Which is different from requiring background checks. The community does not have any reason to assume that self managed non-profit shelter organizations are the tool to verify information that should be tracted by criminal justice and behavioral rehabilitation organizations.
    But – I guess what SHARE is saying is why would we assume that anyone but troubled individuals are seeking desperate shelter…..they screen on a different basis (maybe assuming that all are sinners or misguided in on way or another).
    Maybe they think trying to draw these outcasts into some sort of community is the first step, despite the fact that some take years to go beyond their homelessness and disorganization. If you want to help organizations like this – you might have to step away from the computer from time to time.

  67. Christian churches are all about having sinners and offenders attend. Isn't that who Jesus spent his time with? What kind of church doesn't attract sinners in search of redemption? Sorry for my ignorance – it is just that I always equate churches with Christianity.

  68. Are there any other residential communities that are being asked for sex offender checks on residents? I don't see anyone demanding checks on people moving into condos or apartments in Seattle, and people with money are just as likely to be sex offenders as people who have had run of bad luck.

  69. “run of bad luck.”

    What like SHARE leader Leo Rhodes, homeless by his own admission for 20 years? That's a hell of a run of bad luck.

  70. People who have a fixed address and are sex offenders have to register, so if they moved into a condo they would have to register. If they are resident in a shelter they do not. That is the problem and why so many want the checks done at the shelter.

    It is a loophole that needs to be closed. Sex Offenders should have to register where ever they are staying even if it is an alley way, hotel, or church basement for the night.

  71. So, what percentage of homeless people do YOU think are out there voluntarily? Huge numbers of working people are just a paycheck away from losing their home. Pointing out one person who is chronically homeless is a silly rhetorical trick.

    Or is your reply just an attempt to divert attention from the real point, which is that the neighbors are demanding something of the homeless that they don't demand from other groups of people, even though the homeless are no more likely than anyone else to be sex offenders?

    HAS anyone gone to the homeowners associations of the new condos and demanded that they conduct sex offender checks? (Of course not–because the condo owners aren't scary poor people.)

  72. You're mixing apples and oranges. Asking the shelter to screen for sex offenders is the equivalent of asking a landlord or homeowners association to perform such screenings. Maybe some do, maybe they don't, but I don't see any neighbors howling for institutional S.O. checks on anyone other than the poor.

    The registration requirement is individual, and is enforced against individual sex offenders. There is neither a legal mandate nor a rational reason for a shelter to conduct such a check, in light of the complete absence of past problems.

  73. Thursday is food bank day and we now have an army of meth heads taking buses in and out of Ballard, AS ALWAYS. Look around downtown Ballard and at the bus stops.

    The liars at the food bank claim these are all “little old ladies” from Ballard, down on their luck? Bull crap, every Wednesday and Thursday it's the same thing. Market Street and the parks over run with panhandler and people with backpacks full of food getting on the bus back to their own neighborhoods!

    Ban the Foodbank!!!!

  74. Do you have any evidence (i.e., NOT speculation and prejudice) that mental illness and substance abuse are more common among this community of homeless than among Ballard residents that have a roof over their heads? Recent notable police responses in my part of the neighborhood have been prompted by the behavior of residents, not transients.

  75. Someone with some courage should wait by the bus stops on Market Street. Ask a few of these crazy looking guys with back packs full of food where they are going. These people are NOT from Ballard and not little old ladies.

    They were stiring up all kinds of trouble on Market street earlier. Yelling back and forth to each other across the street, walking in groups intimidating people for change, you name it. Think I exaggerate? Ask any shop owner on Market Street what they put up with every Wednesday and Thursday for food bank day, then the grand finale on Friday, when St. Lukes does its huge soup kitchen right in downtown Ballard. Tranisients sleeping all over the parks every Friday after the lunch and panhandling like crazy.

    The only days of peace we have on Market Street are Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday because there is no free food on those days in Ballard and they stay in their own neighborhoods. The other days are hell.

  76. I've read enough history to know that America has a long tradition of “show me your papers” and “you shoudn't mind our invasion of your privacy if you have nothing to hide.” It's not what we should aspire to, but it's a deep and creepy undercurrent in American culture, obviously even in liberal Ballard.

  77. That's it! Let's send people who seem frightening to us to camps! No more homeless! And no more people who seem peculiar even if they have a home! At last, you've hit on a final solution to the problem!

  78. Right – O. And look at all the African-Americans who came here to better themselves! They were bootstrapping– oh, wait, they were enslaved by wealthy property owners. Fortunately, property owners in the north during the early years of the country eschewed slavery, preferring to allow their employees to “bootstrap” themselves by working 16 hour days in appalling working conditions. Lotsa bootstrapping there.

  79. You're right. We do have a right to know. Would you mind filling out a questionnaire as to your activities, associates, and whereabouts? If you have nothing to hide, it shouldn't be a problem.

  80. I live around the corner from the Food Bank and all I see are people you need food. In the years I've been here, I've seen exactly one behavior problem spill over onto my street (about 100 feet away.) Sorry about your intolerance problem.

  81. They don't need to do the checks as convicted sex offenders must register their fixed address – which a condo would be. Sounds like condos and shelters are apples and oranges in this case.

  82. Actually right now the Army will take nearly anyone. I know a recruiter who begs his catch to PLEASE not smoke pot at least three days before the physical.

  83. Robert

    The post had to do with people on Market Street creating all sorts of problems before and after they leave the food bank. It's like clockworks twice a week and you don't have to put up with it, obviously.

    Also, the point was they are coming and going on BUSES. This means they are not from Ballard. The ones I saw looked like Meth Heads. Sorry to burst your bubble.

    And yes, I saw them creating havoc all morning before the food bank and after on Market Street. Ask any business owner….. I have better things to do than argue that the Food bank is full of little old ladies from Ballard. It's not.

    IThey are hardcore transients and trouble makers from downtown and the U District. Watch the bus stops every Wednesday and Thursday!

    Again, many of us are sick of the whole “homeless thing”, we would like more than two days of peace per week. Is that intolerant. Some of us prefer to not deal with a circus to feel less guilty that we have our acts together. OK????

    Do you think we all live in Ballard because we want to blog about Meth Heads, soup kitchens and Food Banks all day. This is absurd!

  84. “Pointing out one person”

    One person? he's a SHARE leader. Apparently leading by example.

    Maybe you don't know much about SHARE but their schtick is not solving vagrancy, it's making it socially acceptable.

    “HAS anyone gone to the homeowners associations of the new condos and demanded that they conduct sex offender checks?”

    Do you think they could get a mortgage or rental agreement on a nice , expensive property having a felony conviction?

  85. By the way Bobby, you know SHARE makes it's residents check sexual offenders checks on some of their other sites, like in Everett right?

  86. Leo Rhodes is 20 yrs homeless and is NOT PAID by SHARE. (at least not on their books as a paid employee) Rather than being employed and self sufficient, he has CHOSEN to live in tent and do SHARE's bidding. (he's has bounced between Tent City 3, Tent City 4 and Nickelsville for for the last 9-10 yrs.) Unfortuantely, you will never convince me that in 20 yrs this man couldn't have worked and saved money for an apartment. If he has time to attend community meetings, county meetings, city meetings for SHARE, then he has time to work.
    But then again, why should he we he can skim some tax free money off of the cash donations made to SHARE and live for free in a tent with three squares a day, free clothing, entertainment (yes they have t.v. and computers) etc?
    Incidentally, old Leo came to Seattle from Alaska and since his arrival in this state some 10 yrs ago has lived in a SHARE shelter.

  87. But you do recognize there is a difference between “show me your papers” to someone walking down the street and “show me your papers” to a group of individuals moving in at no cost, nor responsibility to you or the neighborhood. It's not like these people are buying a home around here, they are asking a community to accept them and house them. Once the community had a condition, they cried “nazi”. It was not a requirement, they requested something, and the neighborhood asked if they would abide by this condition.

  88. Hmmmmmm, I can pretty much say I don't agree with the camps idea. Giving people a choice to submit to a background check in exchange for letting them live here is vastly different then rounding them up and putting them into a camp. One's a deal, the other is well, pretty much prison. I could be wrong.

  89. I looked it up, and found there is a level 2 living down the street from me. I'm glad I know, but I figure he's served his time, so leave him be, but it's good to know.

  90. I agree Rose, you just mention Bellevue and I get hives. It's my sensitive, compassion-driven beliefs, I just step out of my Seattle bubble and it's rash time.

  91. I simply don't care for suburbia but to each his own. I tried it once and hated every minute. I have no doubt others feel just the opposite.

  92. “Discrimination, invasion of privacy, and presumption of guilt are un-American.”

    Has the author of this sophomoric letter been to an airport lately? Every American goes through a background check every time they get on a commercial airliner. Why shouldn't the residents of Ballard be able to seek reasonable assurances such as background checks and drug tests and mental health evaluations from people who are staying for free on tax exempt property?

    “How many times have we had a problem with a sex offender at a SHARE shelter?


    I am glad that they have never had a problem with a sex offender at their shelter, but I am concerned with a sex offender from their shelter leaving the grounds of the shelter and committing a crime while residing in the neighborhood.

    And frankly, bold caps written in a communication is generally considered to be shouting, and I do not like being shouted at. So, I guess I will try to get over being one of:

    “The real losers in all this are the Ballard neighbors who are trapped in their fears and ignorance”

    Before I read this letter, I was against this shelter, now I am VEHEMENTLY against this shelter.

    Maybe SHARE should be more POLITE.

  93. Come on? Do you know why homeless people are homeless? Mental and substance abuse problems. Don't placate to them and play dumb. Many are harmless to others, while harmful to themselves, but don't for a second thing there aren't a number of issues to deal with when interacting with a homeless camp.

  94. You are right. Forget the background checks for the homeless. Then, when a man gets beat up, or a lady is robbed, or maybe a kid murdered, we'll have more to comment about on My Ballard.

    I live down by 8th and 95th, where there is often an encampment of “homeless” or transients camping out in their trailers and vans under Holman. I also have a young fiancee who is rather petite. I prefer that she be able to walk the few blocks to QFC without fearing for her life as she strolls under the Holman overpass.

    The cops have been called to shoo these trollers away. You bet I'd rather those people have background checks and/or asked to move away than something happen to my fiancee. Because if something were to happen to her, or some kid in my neighborhood, you can bet I'd do something back.

    Background checks are wholly American. As a college grad who works at Boeing and formerly was a teacher, I've always had to do background checks. When I bought a home – background check. Get off your theoretical high horse. This is not WWII or krystalnaught.

  95. Security checks are required at airports because there has been a history of people hijacking airplanes. Are you aware of anyone hijacking Ballard and crashing it into a building at any time in the past? And, did YOU submit to a security check before you moved here? If not, would you please go to the neighborhood service office and tell the police officer there all about all of your business? The innocent have nothing to hide, you know.

  96. Actually bobby, I did, and you did.

    Every time you get a drivers license or ID, the government runs a check on you.

    Did you not know this? Where have you been? It is a brave new world with this law called the Patriot act?

    Anything else I can fill you in on?

    And didn't a homeless guy just steal a car last week, and get into a high speed chase with the police right here in Ballard?

    Good to know you are keeping up with the news.

  97. Are you saying that that you believe that Sexual Offender locations should be kept private? Yes or No will do-
    Honestly just trying to get a read on your input with out sarcasm and innuendo. No other explanation necessary.

  98. This is so entertaining especially when one remembers that this country was founded by rejects. Europe used to ship out its prostitutes, drunks, felons and religious wingnuts to “the colonies”.
    Later on, homeless and jobless people came to the new world (The Italians, the Irish, the Eastern European Jews)
    Watching the descendants of whores, drunks, homeless people and other outcasts act “holier than thou” is just too funny. Sorry guys but having a mortgage doesn't give one class, breeding or moral superiority

  99. Most of these new transients into Ballard are straight from release at King County and other Prisons. Ask them yourselves. They are more than glad to tell you. Ask around Bergen Park. They are all ex cons or wanted on warrants

  100. Robert – If you love criminals and transients that are dangerous so much, make a group of friends of them and go on a cross country trip this summer. Out of Ballard, PLEASE!

  101. This is so entertaining especially when one remembers that this country was founded by rejects. Europe used to ship out its prostitutes, drunks, felons and religious wingnuts to “the colonies”.
    Later on, homeless and jobless people came to the new world (The Italians, the Irish, the Eastern European Jews)
    Watching the descendants of whores, drunks, homeless people and other outcasts act “holier than thou” is just too funny. Sorry guys but having a mortgage doesn't give one class, breeding or moral superiority

  102. A criminal backgroud check is hardly prying into your privacy. If you have no record, it tells nothing else about you.
    I think it's a shame that SHARE is holding out on this small request, posssibly sending those 20 men back to the street.

  103. SHARE…Shame on you for making such a huge deal of doing background checks and possibly costing your shelter a place to stay a Calvary.
    If your residents ever re-enter society,they will find background checks are a way of life and required often.

    Background checks will be a requirement for many things to progress in life. Why not teach your homeless population that a background check is a part of life for many who want a job, get insurance, rent a house , apartment, or even to volunteer in some cases. Get them used to it and teach them to deal head-on with whatever might be on their background check . In my opinion, your refusal to allow background checks does nothing but hold your residents back and helps to keep them on the outskirts of society and still homeless.

  104. How about turning Calvary into a community center where those of us posting here can meet, get to know each other and use the building to build community. Maybe we could take direction from a long standing community center, like Sunset Hill?

  105. Actually this country was founded by the most educated, elites and Freemasons from Europe at the time. What you are saying is factually inaccurate. The religious people you speak of, were a separate group called Puritans, which did not drink or engage in prostitution. What we have walking Ballard today are low lives, not the next Thomas Jeffersons and Benjamin Franklins as you seem to believe. These are what on would commonly refer to as drug addicts and criminals.

  106. This is possibly the most ignorant remark I've heard in quite a while. The homeless are homeless because they're drunk or mentally ill? That kind of sweeping generalization is not only completely wrong, but speaks volumes about your prejudices and lack of information.

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