Church votes on shelter, results on Sunday

The congregation of Our Redeemer’s Church voted Thursday night on whether to open a SHARE homeless shelter at the vacant Calvary Lutheran Church in Loyal Heights. The results will be revealed to the congregation on Sunday.

After the two-hour meeting, Pastor Stephen Grumm told us the vote was passionate, fruitful and honest. “There were lots of diverse opinions,” he said, explaining the ballots have yet to be counted. About three dozen people attended the closed-door, congregation-only meeting.

Neighbors of Calvary Lutheran delivered a two-page letter to Pastor Grumm to read to the group. The letter mapped out three conditions: church accountability of the building, direct oversight of the shelter, and required sex offender background checks on the shelter members. But SHARE members have refused the sex offender background check requirement, explaining they have a policy that sex offenders are not allowed to stay at their shelters.

In the letter, neighbors explained they spoke with the King County Sheriff’s office about how they keep tabs on homeless sex offenders. “[Deputies] said the only way that SHARE would know if they have a registered sex offender staying with them is if they did a background check either by calling the King County Sex Offender Unit or by checking on their website,” the letter reads. “Due to the large number of small children and the presence of a daycare center nearby, we feel it’s imperative to ensure the safety of those children by obtaining these background checks.” We’ll let you know the results of the vote on Sunday.

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

127 thoughts to “Church votes on shelter, results on Sunday”

  1. If SHARE has a policy that sex offenders are not allowed to stay at their shelters – how do they enforce that policy? SHARE members told us (at the Calvary meeting) that they don't even check ID unless someone is “shady” when doing the screen downtown. So they can't even check against the all-shelter bar list.

  2. If the Calvary site is approved without the requirement of criminal background checks, are the church and SHARE going to be in violation of Megan's Law? Perhaps we should ask Reuven Carlyle, one of our state representatives (and a frequent blogger on this site) what he would do to uphold state law and protect the community in the event the church goes forward with the shelter without doing the background checks first.

  3. I have plenty of compassion for the homeless, and I truly hope the church and SHARE can work out something. But sex offender checks just seem like a no brainer. And didn't the surrounding neighbors even offer to pay for it?

  4. Let us not forget that SHARE is checking i.d. and running outstanding warrant/sex offender checks at their Tent City 4 shelter on the Eastside. That camp is currently located in Redmond, at St. Jude's. The warrant/sex offender checks are run for free by the King County Sheriff's office.

  5. No checks = No shelter. Get the checks, get the shelter. What does SHARE bring to the table? Let them refuse to do checks. They can find another place for a shelter, say Belltown with all of their police patrols.

  6. How about some compassion for the neighborhood?
    I'm ALL FOR raising the awareness of homelessness in Seattle but
    these SHARE people are misguided, irresponsible and naive.
    They have been known to stock their tent cites with college kids just to make a point and harass mayor Nickles. The quest of Mayor Nickles, Plymouth housing group and other LEGITIMATE champions of the homeless is to provide temporary HOUSING (as apposed to unpredictable, unsafe, unsanitary and weather vulnerable TENTS) and to provide PERMANENT housing along with a net work of support to help the tenants navigate the gauntlet that is the social services system.
    If the SHARE people really want to make a difference in the lives of the Seattle homeless they would be better off spendiing thier time and efforts raising capital and awareness of the REAL programs that are making a significant and lasting
    difference in these peoples lives.
    Come on SHARE. Google Plymouth and learn what really works and pitch in and really HELP!

  7. I would! Except this vote was obviously a farce. And Grumm does not actually lead their religious services — another pastor does that — so there's no opportunity to deliver him a proper dose of congregational criticism every Sunday.

    Showing up this Sunday, when the decision is announced, would not be a bad idea.

  8. I never thought I'd want to move to New York City, but lately my friends who moved here from there have been shaking their heads and saying, “This kind of ridiculousness could only happen on the West Coast.” When did homeless guys who may or may not be criminals get more rights than people who work hard to be able to afford to live in extremely overpriced housing? You know, since I was once homeless you would think that SHARE would consider my rights too even though I'm a “compassionless rich yuppie” now because I think a shelter in a completely residential neighborhood should have oversight and background checks. But I guess once you get your life together all your rights go out the window in their opinion. They're not better than “the man” that they hate.

  9. that's the way i read it too bernie. what's the size of the congregation? there should be a simple majority i think. if not, let the people in the surrounding neighborhood be part of the vote!

  10. that's the wrong reason to join the church. they shouldn't be the deciding factor. and if only 36 showed up, what't that tell you about the congregation anyway!!!

  11. Well, I guess that these Congregants are just like the rest of us. Only those with strong feelings show up…. the rest of us just hope in the goodness and widsom of those with strong feelings.
    But you know Lutherans – they are probably up to something.

  12. What they need to do is sell it to someone who won't turn it into a homeless shelter. Don't tear it down. It's a great building.

  13. Where is the accountability for what would be a constantly rotating group of men living in the church. Who is keeping track of them? There could be a different group of visitors every week bringing an assortment of problems with them. The sex offender issue is important, but only one troubling factor.

  14. Another SHARE shelter is right down the street at Trinity United Methodist Church at 23rd & 65th. It's been running for about a year and doesn't do background checks. No church personnel supervise overnight either. Everyone appears up in arms about this potential shelter but one SHARE shelter is already operating in the neighborhood without background checks of the shelter residents. Our collective outrage is inconsistent unless we include the current shelter in our discussions/actions.

  15. About three dozen votes…I'm just guessing that the tally is known, and the delay is to allow the good pastor to inform the whole congregation on Sunday, prior to releasing the results to the media. I expect a verbose letter, either way.
    And on Mothers Day? Great. Just what I want to be focusing on…
    (Happy Mothers Day Mom!)

  16. Speaking as one of the many who have been laid off recently, anyone could end up homeless. None of us are immune to hard times. There are probably many of this group who pose no harm or threat to the community.
    However, some (and I use that word strongly) SOME may pose a threat to the people who live in the surrounding neighborhood. In all fair mindedness, there are many types of homeless people. Why should these neighbors live with sex offenders, homeless or not?

  17. I was in NYC, mostly Manhattan, for about a week recently and I barely saw any homeless at all until I walked by the shelter by the former CBGB's. I know that there are homeless in NYC but how is it that our little city is flooded with homeless on every street and NYC isn't?
    Funny anecdote I may as well share…yesterday in Belltown I had an obviously homeless woman trying the doors of my car while I was getting my parking sticker. Not only that but there were two KC deputies not 20 paces away who just shrugged when they saw it.

  18. Trix, well put. And why does the warrant checks keep falling to the floor? I don't want 'wanted' individuals there as much as I don't want sex offenders there. I don't like the idea of anyone sheltering fugitives from justice, especially when they are left to their own devices in our neighborhood all day, every day.
    It's disturbing to think that a shelter can invite them into this neighborhood, and to be so irresponsible about it.
    All day, every day, ridiculous. Beyond ridiculous, outrageous.

  19. wow, that's not comforting. Do you think it was because there was no revenue opportunity? I'd bet that if anyone with a job had done that, they'd find themselves in a different situation…

  20. We ask that the church be accountable for what goes on at the empty building. They have a lousy track record as demonstrated by their handling of the soup kitchens.

    Case in point, neighbors helped them clean up the grounds two weeks ago. There are still 6-8 bags of yard waste sitting on the south side of the building. Why has this not been removed. We've had two yard waste pick-ups since then… If the city doesn't pick up yard waste at the building, why doesn't somebody from the congregation take the stuff down to the Transfer Station for recycling? I just don't get it. It's all about accountability.

  21. Why can't you just put these out with your collection? You seem near by and noticed this oversight – it would be kind of a neighborly helpful thing to do…..
    be accountable to yourself, and step up to the plate. Last time I was near a church it seemed like all the members were getting on in years, or were so overwhelmed with children or recovering from illness . Having a johnny-on-the spot helful, detail oriented, accountable neighbor ought to be a blessing in anyone's life.

  22. Again, this is a simple illustration of the neglect that happens at a vacant property. The property owner (ORLC) has responsiblity for trash removal. I am assuming they will have it removed, the question is when.

  23. Again this is a simple illustration of the passive aggressive northwest way of pointing out the errors of other's choices. Will this style of civic engagement ever end? Not if I have anything to do with it

  24. Again, this is an issue of accountability to their neighbors, clearly, and just another example of the lack there of. But some would insist that it is someone elses responsibility, like, providing a neighborhood for the career homeless.
    Ballard doesn't want it, doesn't need it, and will continue to fight it.

  25. Trix, I wish you the best in finding a good job. If you need a roof over your head, or any assistance, let your neighbors help. If you'd care to post what your career type is, I'd believe that you'd find some opportunity here. Just saying, I live in a community that looks out for each other. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it ;-)

  26. Own your statements – you don't wan't it, don't need and and will continue to fight…
    Ballard appears to be making other choices.

  27. No, background checks bring into awareness the errors of others- it does not eliminate those errors, or prevent further errors. If it could only be as simple as you propose?

  28. I do own my statements, my choices, my neighborhood. It's what makes a community, owners, taking ownership. You just delegate yours away, sad, and very sorry that you think it's someone elses job.

  29. You either have a very one-dimensional view of the situation and live no where near Ballard or you are a troll. What makes you think that the neighbors who live around the church aren't of the same demographic as your stereotype of church-goers? I can tell you right now there are elderly people, people with severe chronic illnesses and people overhwhelmed by having children living near the abandoned Calvary buliding too. And I know people at the Our Redeemers congregation and I know that not all of them are feeble and ailing – most are upper-middle class white folks who are quite able-bodied. There is no reason why the neighbors should pick up their mess. They certainly have done nothing to help the neighbors of Ballard and they are a church – that is their mission. At least the neighbors in Ballard do not publicly claim to have a mission from Jesus to help people – then screw over the neighbors because they don't feel that any of us are “needy” enough to make good P.R. for them in the media if they respect and care abour our rights.

    Your troll-ness is not going to get a rise out of people if you continue to come off so completely out of touch with reality.

  30. Not quite. “Ballard” is not “making other choices.” Only a few people associated with Pastor Grumm and SHARE (not a neighborhood group) seem to be making choices for the entire community.

    How much is SHARE paying you to troll these comment threads?

  31. I'm a neighbor of the Calvary Building and helped on the clean up day. We took two bags of yard waste home plus donated our yard waste bin the day of clean up. The remaining bags have been sitting in the rain and are in such a condition that if we tried to carry them home they would disintegrate before we got there. I know other neighbors took bags home the day as well. Shouldn't the church have some accountability?

  32. Our preschool rents space in the building. The SHARE shelter is self managed and no church congregants or staff spend the night with the shelter residents. Because our preschool rents space from the TUMC we have obviously had talks with the church about the shelter. The shelter folks are there at different hours than our school however we share certain spaces with the shelter residents. Unfortunately, one of our teachers found a crack pipe and a syringe hidden in the diaper changing table in the bathroom.

  33. Get out of town! Finding a crack pipe and a syringe(with a needle on it?) For me, if it were my kids, Game Over. Close the friggin' shelter, no notice, no anything..Get Out! Geez, I can't say this loud enough.

  34. That is truly shocking blite. I,m glad it was a teacher and not a student!

    rev. lang should kick them out post haste; I cant believe their still there after that. It never ceases to amaze me how these churches play foot loose with these druggies at the expense of the general public and kids no less!

    I wonder how much money their getting for housing them? taking the kind of chances they take; has to be about the money.

  35. This article appears in the Real Change newspaper and was written by the Pastor of Trinity United Methodist on March 11, 2009. I believe it is a must read in light of the current situation regarding SHARE:

    SHARE-ing the Mission

    If you want to see human primate behavior at its worst I can think of no better place than at another in the never ending series of neighborhood explosions as soon as SHARE opens a shelter in yet another host church.
    The SHARE neighborhood gatherings almost always descend into an outbreak of hysteria fueled by fear that the homeless will plunder our houses, burn down our garage, steal our children, abuse our spouses, and pee in our bushes. In Seattle one also witnesses the agonizing descent of progressive, eco-friendly, really nice neighbors morphing into belligerent, bullying, arrogant, selfish, “not in my backyard” hypocrites who haven't a clue as to how shallow their character truly has become.

    But my beef isn't with them. Those nice neighbors, nice mostly because they are relatively secure, are trapped like slaves in Pharaoh's empire by a political process that caters to the appetites of the massively wealthy who care little at all about the common good. It is a great sadness that the middle class identifies with the agenda of the obscene rather than focusing on housing for all, living wages, and limits to wealth. It was the wealthy who destroyed low income housing in this City, and it is the wealthy who set the political agenda that creates homelessness.

    But my beef isn't with the wealthy. After all they are only being true to their nature as exploiters. They only care about profit, their own benefits. My beef is actually with SHARE, an organization that evidently has only one tool in its box, and is seemingly incapable of adapting and evolving with the changing of time, and circumstance.

    For example, SHARE's routine is this: locate a host for shelter space, inform the neighborhood that it is moving in next week, call together a community gathering for neighbors to vent, march up a hapless, ill-trained motley crew of homeless targets that sit passively through a two-three hour mauling of whatever dignity they might have left, and then move the shelter in as the neighborhood temper tantrum dies down into resignation.

    It works for SHARE but it damages the host and it brings an unnecessary provocation within the neighborhood. It seems to me it might be more fruitful for SHARE to first bring an education forum into the neighborhood, complete with a political organizing strategy to help the neighbors direct their anger at the place it belongs: the Mayor's office and City Council. But this would mean that SHARE, with limited resources, might have to first learn how to become an equal partner with other homeless advocates. They might have to learn to depend on allies to help them. That would mean that SHARE might have to grow up out of adolescence into adulthood as a movement of real change. It would mean that SHARE might have to, well, share the mission with others.

    Rev. Rich Lang is Pastor of Trinity United Methodist in Ballard, and a member of the Real Change Organizing Project. He can be contacted through

  36. Can someone please help me understand how the city interprets zoning laws regarding churches? It seems to me that when a church is built within a neighborhood, the intent is to have members attend services, but obviously not sleep at the church. Why is it possible then for a church to essentially become a campground? If I wanted to convert my backyard into a campground, would that be legal? If the church wanted to open a free strip club or any other non-money-making business on their premises, would that be legal? I'm not trying to be weird here; I'm just trying to understand how this all works.

  37. Rich 'Jim Jones' Lang of the People's Church?

    Thanks for the screed. I know where my interests lie and it's not having professional bums, which is what SHARE, move in. SHARE is a political circus as this drivel about sucking even more money from tax payers to help the professional bum class.

    Talk to Plymouth, they are actually helping the homeless, not doing stunts.

  38. “But my beef isn't with the wealthy. After all they are only being true to their nature as exploiters.”

    Great, another Marxist in Ballard.

  39. ” ill-trained motley crew of homeless targets that sit passively through a two-three hour mauling of whatever dignity they might have left,”

    Well bring along SHARE leader Leo Rhodes, homeless for 20 years, I'm sure he can hold his own.

    That's right, SHARE leader Leo Rhodes, homeless for 20 years.

    Not 20 days.

    Not 20 weeks.

    Not 20 months.

    20 years.

    Seriously, can we at least say after XX years you're a bum, and drop the 'homeless' euphemism?

  40. “But my beef isn't with the wealthy. After all they are only being true to their nature as exploiters. They only care about profit, their own benefits”

    This statement sounds just as stupid as all the folks who say that “the homeless” all just shit in their yards and mooch off the taxpayers.

    The whole world is made up of individuals, people of all income levels are just people too, some are a-holes and some are cool. Categorizing people like that makes you sound like an ass, not very becoming of a Pastor.

  41. That's horrible! I wouldn't want my daughter going to preschool in a situation like that. And what is worse it is probably a very good preschool but housing an unsupervised shelter like that is going to ruin it. And apparently SHARE can not keep drugs out of their shelters even though they swear drugs are never a problem in their shelters. What else are they lying about not being a problem? This is what we have to look forward too if they open up in Calvary. Oh yay.

  42. Hey I”m a Marxist AND I am apparently one of the “wealthy exploiters” who are so evil to the innocent victims who are the homeless men at SHARE shelters. The same homeless men who hide crack pipes and syringes in diaper changing tables in preschools. Oh yes, I should bow down to them and wash their feet because they are just like Christ. Give me a break! I'm not going to be doing anything to support Trinity after that ridiculous propaganda-filled letter from their pastor.

  43. I did not mind your colorful language at all. You said exactly what I was thinking. I feel like letting some F-bombs fly myself but I don't want to get banned from posting on this forum.

  44. If it gets the worst problematic homeless out of the financial district and makes the city government look like good politically correct liberals then it is legal no matter who it ends up hurting. Especially if the people it is hurting are not incredibly wealthy and powerful and as long as they are not so down and out needy that the city government would be worried someone would think they weren't “nice” by letting them walk all over them.

  45. I shouldn't have read this letter. It is so full of propaganda and so ill-informed that I don't think I can ever read another Real Change newspaper again without feeling horrified they would print such garbage. I think I'll just give my dollar to the vendors from now on and not take the paper. What a bunch of total myopic crap! Must stop posting … just so angry …

  46. I would say to Rev. Rich Lang that he has spent a lot of time glossing over the real concern, which is criminal behavior. Pharoah's empire, in this case Seattle, happens to be an unusually hospitable “sanctuary” city that provides much for the homeless. To write off angry neighbors as “slaves… by a political process that caters to the appetites of the massively wealthy who care little at all about the common good.” is to deny the true nature of their protests. Criminal behavior, not homelessness, is the worry. Why can't this be clear in our dialogue?!!

    Rev. Lang assigns “human primate behavior at its worst” to neighbors who show concern for an apparently willful lack of oversight by SHARE and the Lutheran Church. Well, Reverend Lang, perhaps you are not close enough to criminal behavior, as some of us are in downtown Ballard, to recognize “human primate behavior at its worst.”.

  47. Thanks mom, I quit reading that drivel some time ago. Talk about exploiting grown men, for what, three bucks a day? And the stuff is propaganda…

  48. It's the utter lack of accountability that has me pissed…
    Talk about 'sanctuary city', we have it in every possible definition.
    Wake up!
    We can't afford this crap!

  49. How come in Rev. Lang's church to get to the office ,you need to go through a couple of locked doors in the hall way. Then when you get close by they open a 2 foot wide window to talk to you. This is a church. And he says we shouldn't be worried about criminal behavior? What about our safety when we don't have all of these precautions at our homes. We just have one door.
    When the cruie lines start coming in regular, they will clear the city of the homeless again as they don't want them downtown. A few years back at some special sporting event downtown they also cleared out the city. At the time there was an uproar about this practice. Now downtown says no more sleeping lottering in the alley ways. No more dumpsters to hide behind. Where do you think this group is going?

    As long as our area continues to sell the hi octane cheap beer/wine locally this will continue to draw them here. They expanded the dry zone again downtown so where do you think they go ? Ballard on the bus line and easy to get to. This in turn brings out the other undesireables with them.

    St John's on Phinney has the sleepovers up there, as does Woodland Park Methodist. With Trinity and possibly Calgary, thats 80 to 100 in walking distance. Probably more that are not mention.

  50. “”human primate behavior at its worst.”.

    Has the Rev. Rich 'Jim Jones' Lang just called us monkeys?

    My, how Christian!

  51. “I don't think I can ever read another Real Change newspaper again without feeling horrified they would print such garbage.”

    That's all Real Change is, pseudo Marxist drivel. These are the people who WISH Obama was a Socialist. They're as crazy as the people on Fox who think he is a Socialist.

    Maybe if these guys sold the Economist or FT I'd buy one. At least then they'd be reading something that might actually help them rather than turn them into full time professional moochers.

  52. Funny how Rich 'EAT THE STATE' Lang dumps on the neighbor,s fears while he and family live comfortably and safe in a WALLED COMMUNITY, IN NORTH SEATTLE!

    No wonder he has a warped view of our concerns!

  53. I guess the KC deputies didn't care since my doors were locked, so technically she didn't break in to the car. I told a couple friends about this and I've been hearing that it's pretty common for people to be spotted trying every door, but the police don't seem to care until something is actually stolen.

  54. Fair enough, at least they were in a position to observe.
    I do get the impression at times that the revenue issue is a factor, but that's just a gut feeling, at most.
    Have a good day, it's a beaut!

  55. absolutely, agree, no question. Damn appalling that anyone would consider this to be an acceptable risk, for the opportunity to cater to career homeless. Obviously, the drug issue is just one of many.
    This church, and others, have to look at long term solutions. This day to day enabling of irresponsibility is beyond stupid, it's harmful.

  56. I actually have to agree with Rich on this one, as far as Share's MO of moving into a new space. But, now that his eyes are opened to it, I'm wondering why he's still working with them? There are other programs out there allowing churches to help the homeless (with immediate shelter AND getting back on their own two feet!) in ways that don't piss off all the neighbors.

  57. Ballard mom….helping one's neighbors is indeed what the church is called to do. But the question is (even in Scripture) “Who is my neighbor?” And if you read the story of the Good Samaritan, you'll find that the Samaritan had to walk around the “good” neighbors in order to help the person who truly needed it. Those “good” neighbors were too busy shouting about their own safety.
    I am both a neighbor to Calvary and a Christian (and, for the record, a Lutheran, though not a member of Our Redeemers). The fact is that ORLC owns the Calvary building now. They are searching for ways to care for others as Christ called them to while being good neighbors. Those crazy, Lutherans…thinking that grace is for everybody!!!

  58. Well that's great but we live in a republic. You know, man's law and all that and that's the law our lawyers will be pursuing.

  59. Apparently the SHARE vagrant shelter in West Seattle wasn't all that much fun, complete with prostitution and fights:

    I have lived in the neighborhood of the West Seattle Church of the Nazarene for twenty years. I am all for helping the homeless if they comply by the rules of the shelter.

    My family, my neighbors, and myself have had numerous encounters with the homeless who have stayed in the shelter in the past and they have not all been nice. I had one man threaten to kill me with his Mac10 after swinging a back pack full of glass beer bottles at my neighbors head. The man told us he was here drinking with his buddies who stay in the church basement.

    Any time someone has been turned away from the shelter they end up on my property or the property of my neighbors. I had one man completely strip down changing his clothes, he refused to leave my yard. He even urinated in my front yard twice before SPD arrived. I had a spanish speaking homeless man from the shelter use my yard for a toilet with the neighbors watching. It’s no fun to pick up human poop much less dog poop from your yard, especially if you don’t have a dog.

    The whole immediate neighborhood has suffered severely in the past with complaints to the church head office. In the past when the church has opened the basement as a shelter the Green Acres apartments had as many as 10 vacant apartments at one time because of encounters with an angry drunk or an under the influence of who knows what wasted homeless person who ends up sitting at the back door of the church.

    Many long time home owners who were raised in this neighborhood sold their family homes. One neighbor moved as close as six blocks away just to get away from the crime in the immediate neighborhood of the church. Homeless were caught breaking into his camper and sleeping in it as it was parked in his driveway.

    Every time the shelter has opened over the years the neighborhood has witnessed an increase of unreported broken windows in vehicles, car prowls, car thefts, drug dealers on the corners, and numerous nasty prostitutes are working the bus stops.

    In the darkness of the night or the light of day many neighbors have witnessed the property of the church being used by prostitutes for numerous years with complaints to the minister who is seldom around to see what is going on, he has a day job that keeps him very busy.

    The church has had considerable destruction at the hands of the homeless. Doors have been replaced from being kicked in by the homeless. The last group who stayed completely destroyed the lighting on the back of the church making the parking lot VERY dark next to the field where rapes have occured in the past. I ran off a nasty prostitute who was in the church parking lot offering blow jobs for $20.00 to my neighbors as well as the homeless at 6:00 AM as they were going to work.

    We have gone to the expense of installing a surveillance and alarm system to our property due to the numerous attempted break ins. We have worked too hard for what we have and my property is not a shopping center.
    Comment by Desi Russell Seefeld

  60. Most city shelters are run by non-profits like SHARE. That there is not sufficient shelter space for all the people who need it has been the issue for a long time.

  61. When SHARE makes the calls from Tent City 4 for sex offender checks the King County Sheriff's Office runs the checks in the computer on the NATIONAL registry, which is constantly updated, NOT the one to which you are refering in the above link on the King County website.

  62. But there are still many homeless who don't want to stay in shelters even when there are beds available. Why is that?

  63. At the meeting back in February, a board member of Ballard Food Bank offered to run the back ground checks for free. It seems Ballard Food Bank does a background check on all of thier volunteers and does this for free due to their non-profit status. Still this offer was not accepted. Makes ya wonder….

  64. How about turning it into a neighborhood art studio, where those that are artistically gifted could display and sell their wares? Various groups and individuals could present and sell each week. Art classes could be offered, as well as education on artists and themes. The possibilities are endless and this could become a fabulous community activity.

    @ boardbrown:
    I agree. It is a really great building and I think we'd all miss it if it were gone. We need to find a community use for this building, something that will bring it back to life. It is in such a sad state now.

  65. I am hoping that if Our Redeemers approves the shelter at the all but vacant Calvary Church, they will also assign several people from their congregation to oversee it.

  66. I appreciate your response.  I do not want to jump to conclusions until the real facts are exposed. It's easy to become one of the excited villagers, carrying a torch and demanding the 'monster' be 'dispatched'. The idea of the syringe/needle could be an innocent misplacement of a diabetic tool but when linked with a crack pipe conjures images of AIDs and HepC rampant among drug abusers. It is critical for me to know as much about what motivates the Rev Lang as possible before launching into a values confrontation. Forget the Jesus thing, the children come first. This is the first lesson of the tribe.

  67. Please lead by your Christian example and open the spare rooms in your homes to the 'part of the flock' referenced above. It's hard to be a Christian, eh?

  68. I think a lot of it has to do with shelter policies, like what time you need to be there to check in (if you work, you might not be able to make it to the shelter by 5), they're crowded, not so safe. I don't think anyone WANTS to be in a shelter situation ….

    But I also wonder why, if these guys are working, don't they band together in groups of four, instead of 20, and rent a cheap apartment as roommates instead of staying in a donated church space? I know that's what I did when my situation called for it. Maybe the churches/social programs should be helping coordinate first/last/deposit and work with landlords to help get these guys into real home situations? My understanding is that this is not part of the program … how come?

  69. PJ – I too believe in helping everyone – even people who are horribly ill-informed and naive. Even people who have committed heinous crimes. If you knew me personally you would know the hundreds of hours I've logged to help people in need.

    During this time I have learned though that like all groups of people, even people who are “down and out” can have problems that can endanger the most vulnerable group of people – our children.

    I am a devout Christian myself, and I know in my heart that God does not want to put any child in danger – even children who are born to people who actually have a job and own their own home. By assuming that because a person has no money and no roof over their head that they are somehow exalted and living in God's grace is foolish. And to believe that putting 20 strangers who obviously have had many problems to lead to their homelessness – into an abandoned building not more than ten feet from a house where two small children live, a park full of children and a daycare is EXTREMELY foolish. My God does not approve of putting vulnerable children in danger just to be able to say that one is a martyr to being “selfless and full of compassion”. People who do not take accountability and do not ask grown men to take a little accountability are not being good Christians – they are trying to make up for their own white middle-class guilt.

    The cruelest thing you can do to someone who has a drug/alcohol/criminal problem is to enable them and treat them like a victim. I know this personally from being one of those homeless criminal drug addicts in my youth. SHARE is not a helpful organization for the homeless. They are a glorified crash pad. I put my energy and money (which I really do do – I don't just post about it and act self-righteous) into organization that help people get OUT of homelessness and have a success rate that does not include spokespeople who are proud to have been homeless for 20 years. That is a failure to help someone when they can say that.

  70. Thanks for the article, Giz. It's literally appalling to me to know that those are the thoughts of the pastor at Trinity. Now I can place the “Jesus was homeless” proclamation on their reader board in its proper context.

    Speaking of which, I'm no expert on the bible, but I thought that Jesus was a carpenter. Didn't he work as such and only then go out on the road to preach his message?

    This is an interesting passage:

    2 Thessalonians 3:6-15

    In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”

    We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.

    If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

  71. “what's the size of the congregation? there should be a simple majority i think…”

    My understanding is that Our Redeemers requires only 10% of their congregation be present to officially achieve quorum. I agrere that 35 people seems ridiculously low to determine such a contentious issue.

  72. If Jesus was homeless then he chose to be homeless. The man had a skill and was able to make his way in this world.
    Thanks for the scripture.

  73. There are a number of factors besides lack of availability that account for
    people sleeping outside. One way to find out would be to talk to people and
    ask what their experience has been. Be advised that you cannot always tell
    who is homeless and who is not.

    Shelter conditions are a reason some do not choose to go inside. In SHARE
    shelters, for example, there is a code of conduct which some cannot/will not
    agree to. Examples are no drinking, no drugs, no violence either verbal or
    physical, a willingness to participate in the management of the shelter.

    As watergirl has said, shelters are crowded and sometimes not safe. People
    I've talked to say their possessions have been stolen by other shelter

    The hours of shelter operation are difficult for some who work, e.g.
    night/swing shift. Some may choose to live in a tent rather than to have to
    leave a shelter early in the morning (even on the coldest days) carrying
    everything they own with them.

    Diseases are more easily spread living in crowded conditions. Many homeless
    people are in poor health and so are more vulnerable to catching something.

    Mental illness is a big issue for some who are resistant to being helped and
    choose to live separately either due to paranoia or other reasons. 22% of
    single adult homeless people suffer from severe and persistent mental
    illness. I understand there is a new film playing locally, “The Soloist”,
    that deals with this issue.

    More than thirty percent of homeless men are vets, some with serious mental
    health issues such as PTSD.

    Incidentally, the Downtown Emergency Service Center has exactly one person
    assigned to all of North King County to do outreach to mentally ill homeless
    people so resources are extremely limited.

    One aspect that is not often addressed is that many homeless people do not
    want to be identified as homeless and therefore stigmatized with all the
    negative stereotypes so prevalent on these blogs. These people will choose
    to live in their cars (if they have them) and to keep up appearances so that
    people cannot identify them as homeless when they see them on the street.
    Many of these people work or are unemployed and are looking for work and are
    still trying to maintain a semblance of normalcy in their lives.

    As I said there are numerous reasons why people choose not to live in
    shelters even if there is space which there often is not. Over 50% of
    shelter requests by homeless families went unmet last year, according to the
    U.S. Conference of Mayors.

    There are a few websites where one can go to get information on
    homelessness. Some is statistical and some is anecdotal. Both are valuable.

    There was a forum on homelessness held here in Ballard recently and I
    understand there will be future forums. Hopefully these will be listed on
    MyBallard and the BNT.

  74. Wow, shelters sound really awful: disease, theft, violence.

    Now you know why we don't want one in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

  75. “In SHARE shelters, for example, there is a code of conduct which some cannot/will not agree to. Examples are no drinking, no drugs, no violence either verbal or physical, a willingness to participate in the management of the shelter.

  76. You are joking, right? There is countless documentation (police reports/incidents/neighbors) to disprove this. The code of conduct is a joke. As long as you do your drinking/drugs/crimes just outside the doors of SHARE's shelters/tents you are home free.

  77. “The cruelest thing you can do to someone who has a drug/alcohol/criminal problem is to enable them and treat them like a victim.”
    Thanks Mom, (Happy Mother's Day).
    Those are the most important words in this discussion. imho.

  78. No joke. The code of conduct is enforced inside the shelter. Those who
    cannot follow the rules are evicted from the shelter, escorted to and put on
    a bus out of the area. Also, residents are encouraged to arrive at the
    shelter as a group in the evening and to leave the area once they leave the
    shelter in the morning.

  79. Ahhhh, SHARE's famous 'look them in the eye' screening. And if SHARE vagrants have to be in and out of the shelter at fixed hours, how will that help them find jobs with odd hours?

  80. Living at a tent city would be a better solution for someone who does not
    work day shift. Also, they can leave their belongings there with some
    assurance that they will be there when they return. At an indoor shelter
    they cannot generally do that as few have lockers available.

  81. Actually, Bark more, Wag less, the Rev Lang is not dependent upon Marx for his analysis. Rather he's getting his perspective from the same place Marx did – the Biblical writings of the Prophets.

  82. Yup, class analysis is a basic tool of anyone who taken more than an introductory course in sociology. But it doesn't fit well into this country's established religion of Americanism with it's highly individualistic doctrine of what it means to be human. So rage on, Ballardmom. But you would be well advised to avoid thinking too much about why the economy in this country of ours is disintegrating.

  83. Yes, thanks for the Scripture, Ragnar. Now I'm wondering why you think it is relevant to the people who will be sleeping at the Calvary church. What is the basis for your assuming that they are not working or seeking work? I suggest you make some effort to get to know the people you are characterizing before you apply Scripture to their situation.

  84. “…Especially if the people it is hurting are not incredibly wealthy and powerful..” Careful there, Ballardmom. You're beginning to sound a bit Marxist.

  85. You're certainly right, Ballardmom, our children are vulnerable in our society. They are vulnerable in regard to our neighbors, they are vulnerable in regard to their teachers, they are vulnerable to individuals driving through our community, they are vulnerable to one another. But of all the groups of people they are vulnerable to the group of men that will be walking through their neighborhood approximately 10 minutes every day and otherwise confined to the property of Calvary are hardly among those we should be most concerned about. However if we need a target for all the anxiety we have concerning the vulnerability of our children, the 20 men our community will be hosting thanks to the concern of Our Redeemer's are a very convenient scapegoat.

  86. Because people do not feel very secure sleeping next to people they do not know and have little accountability to those they are sleeping next to. Spending the evening and night with people who function more as a community is a much more satisfactory experience.

  87. Pastor Grumm, as a rule at both of the services at Our Redeemer's every Sunday. Anyone wanting to talk to him or others in the congregation can do so between 10:00 and 10:30 or better yet after 11:30.

  88. Do the homeless suffer from “homelessphobia?” Yes of course they do even though many of them if not most who have been assaulted have been assaulted by young men who are not homeless. But one of the major attractions of a SHARE shelter is that they know those with whom they will be spending the evening have been carefully interviewed and can be held accountable for their behavior in and around the place they are staying.

  89. One thing to think about. A much larger percentage of church members voted on how to use a property that THEY OWN than the percentage of neighbors who have expressed their outrage at the shelter. The property has been for sale for some time now. Instead of telling the church how they should use their property, why doesn't the neighborhood come together and buy the building. Then you could turn it into a community center, artist spaces, whatever you as the owners choose to do.

    If a large active church buys the space then you will wish that there were just 20 guys living there and you will start complaining about how church members are taking “your” street parking, noise, etc.

    I worked every day for many months in a church that hosted tent city. We had the regular headaches of increased use of our space but did find them to be good at self patrolling, picking up litter, etc. I can also tell you that they did get rid of people who did not follow their rules.

    I wouldn't want a shelter opening next to me but honestly I wouldn't want a pre school or high school, big church, or even a neighbor with a loud barking dog moving in next to me either.

    You have had the benefit of a small church community being your neighbors in a large church building for many years. My guess is whatever the future, it is going to make close neighbors very unhappy.

    How about some condos?

    Something to think about!

    Not afraid to sign my name – Darren Hochstedler

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