Updated: During the service at Our Redeemer’s Church today, Pastor Steve Grumm announced that the congregation has overwhelmingly voted in favor of allowing a SHARE homeless shelter to move into Calvary Lutheran Church in Loyal Heights. The move will happen on May 30th without sex offender background checks, a key request from neighbors who live around the Calvary Lutheran. “The question I think we should be asking is, is this a move that’s safe?” Pastor Grumm told My Ballard in an interview after the service. “If we don’t use the background checks, is there a system in place, that as much as possible gaurantees safety? And I think it’s present there.”
SHARE says it holds its members to the highest level of accountability, but has refused to submit to sex offender background checks as a condition to moving into the vacant Calvary Lutheran building. “What SHARE has done, from our perspective, has set up a system that is as close as a guarantee that you can get that the behavior in the shelter is going to be monitored and any aberrant behavior removes them from the shelter,” Pastor Grumm said, explaining the system has worked in similar shelters across Seattle.
“We worked for three months in good faith, and this is their decision,” says one of the neighbors who has met several times with Our Redeemers. “We’re just going to have to work with it.” In a letter delivered to Pastor Grumm last week, neighbors said they were uncomfortable with SHARE’s screening process, which is comprised of an interview. “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,” they wrote.
Our Redeemer’s says volunteers from the congregation will check in at the shelter every night for at least the first month, and they’re planning to create a task force to meet monthly to discuss any concerns neighbors may have. SHARE says the shelter of 20 men will be open from 7 p.m to 7 a.m., and the doors will lock every night at 10 p.m. SHARE rules require members to be drug-free, sober and non-violent, and they’re not allowed to loiter in the neighborhood. Pastor Grumm told us that if a member commits a crime in the neighborhood, the shelter is “out of there,” a promise SHARE made during a heated community meeting in February.
On May 20th, Our Redeemers will hold another public meeting at Calvary Lutheran at 7 p.m. to discuss plans to oversee the shelter and answer questions. The SHARE shelter will move in on May 30th, and will stay for one year.
Last Thursday: Church votes on shelter, results to be announced Sunday