Controversial Ballard homeless shelter to close

Our Redeemer’s Church says it’s been unable to reach an agreement with the homeless group SHARE on new screening procedures, so the church has decided to close the homeless shelter in Loyal Heights.

In September, neighbors discovered a convicted child rapist living at the Calvary Lutheran shelter at 70th and 23rd Ave NW. The Level III sex offender was quickly banished, but neighbors demanded that SHARE screen new members for sex offenders. Our Redeemer’s tells My Ballard today that it asked SHARE to conduct the checks, but SHARE “indicated their inability to do so.” Prior to the discovery of the sex offender, SHARE had repeatedly refused neighbor requests for the checks, calling sex offender screening “un-American.”

“I am glad that Our Redeemer’s stepped up and decided to require sex offender background checks, yet disappointed that SHARE wouldn’t take this one simple step to ensure the survival of the shelter,” said one neighbor who wished to remain anonymous. In a statement later this afternoon, our Redeemer’s added:

“Our Redeemer’s is deeply saddened that the process of seeking a more effective entry protocol has at times led to neighbors, church members, and homeless people taking apparently opposite sides, when in fact we are partners in creating safe, compassionate community for all. Most of us want a safe place for people who are homeless to sleep. Reasonable people may disagree on how to reach that goal. Our Redeemer’s asks that all of us involved in discussions about the Calvary campus shelter extend the presumption of good faith to one another and treat each other with respect.”

Our Redeemer’s says no date has been set for the shelter’s closure, and the timing may hinge on SHARE’s ability to find a new location. SHARE has been unavailable for comment.

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

61 thoughts to “Controversial Ballard homeless shelter to close”

  1. I just don't understand why when there are so many people willing to help SHARE if they just make one concession – the Level III sex offender background checks (which that do at other shelters) – that SHARE still refuses to do that and is now putting the men in the shelter back on the street again? All they had to do was agree to do the checks and it would've cost them nothing and there were plenty of volunteers who would had committed to help. Is it some sort of principal that one shelter they run should do background checks and another not do them? A principal that is more important than the men who will be back out on the street because SHARE is so stubborn?

  2. It's a shame it has come to this. The majority neighbors surveyed didn't want the shelter to close as long as checks were put in place. Let's hope Or Redeemers will consider one of the other organizations that are more responsible than SHARE to take over. Isn't there one called New Frontier's (or something) that provide training and job placements too.

  3. my guess is that if SHARE's closure in ballard hinges upon their ability to find new digs, they will probably be here for a while, since any other group who might consider housing SHARE will probably read all the hubub on myballard and refuse them.

    and before anyone gets in a huff and says this sounds like i’m blaming myballard- i’m not, nor am i pointing fingers or placing blame, i'm just speculating on a possible outcome of living in such an informed society, which i happen to appreciate (myballard news/info included).

  4. Trying again as my last comment was lost.

    “Anyone can pull up sex offenders in any neighorhood.”

    Yes, including any of the neighbors if they are so concerned as shanedillon was. The fact that the person was identified was because he was registered.

    The fact that a sex offender was discovered and was promptly evicted with no harm to the neighborhood seems immaterial to folks who post on this blog. I'm glad to see that at least some people are sorry that twenty people will be ejected from shelter through no fault of their own.

    “I just don't understand why when there are so many people willing to help …”

    Sorry, I must have missed the part about helping.

    All I saw was a witch hunt going on and a campaign to villify one of the most effective shelter providers in King County. What I understand is that SHARE does check for a persons name being on a list provided by the Dept. of Corrections of registered sex offenders and this person's name was not on that list.

  5. They do no such check. What I was told at the first meeting regarding the shelter (we stayed after to talk to some of the men that were on stage) is they have a man-to-man “screening” where the screener speaks with the person for 1-3 minutes and decides whether they are okay or not. There are no set screening questions, etc. There is an all-shelter bar list which they put someone on for breaking the rules. However, this is not always checked and ID is not checked all the time either. What one guy said to me was that he asked for ID if the guy seemed “shady.”

    They do check against the list you are talking about at some of the tent cities – but to my understanding they were not doing that at this shelter.

  6. share has a way liberal agenda and i for one am glad to see redeemer's to finally see that. some here just don't see the risk and i can't understand that.

  7. No, he was found because he had his mailed forwarded to the shelter not because he registered. He is a level 3 offender because he was not in compliance. You can only guess why SHARE refuses to screen people at the church, instead of the neighbors having to find put.

  8. …..yes, caught with their pants down as it were. Of course, after getting caught what did they offer to do? Nothing.

    Good bye. Good riddance. SHARE is political circus at it's worst.

  9. “SHARE had repeatedly refused neighbor requests for the checks, calling sex offender screening “un-American.' '”

    Good luck trying to place these shelters in residential 'hoods with that attitude.

  10. I wouldn't be surprised if SHARE has a very difficult time finding a new location to replace Calvary. Now that it is so open and talked about that they oppose doing something as simple as a sex offender check, makes one wonder…

  11. How about now getting a better organization running the shelter for the winter?

    Salvation Army maybe?

    It would be a shame if nothing happens in the building over the winter months.

  12. “I just don't understand why when there are so many people willing to help …”
    “Sorry, I must have missed the part about helping.”

    Maybe I saw it because I was talking to my neighbors in person and attending neighborhood meetings and listening to what people had to see. I had conversations with plenty of neighbors who wanted to help and actually did help.

    I guess if you base your whole impression on the situation by what is written in online forums like this or KOMO news or Seattle PI or the like, then you would have an unrealistic idea of what was really going on.

    There were plenty of people in online forums who posted about wanting a witch hunt for the homeless. There were also people like you who wanted a witch hunt of a bunch of compassionate neighbors who were just asking SHARE to show a little responsibility. I'm glad that knowing personally the people involved, the majority of the witch hunts on either side were kept to these anonymous forum pages and had little to do with real people or reality.

  13. You are right Ballardmom. I was judging by the comments posted on this blog which have been pretty one sided. I am glad to hear that those did not represent everyone's response.

    Not living in that neighborhood, I was not privy to the conversations you describe. I do know many people who are part of SHARE and I think very highly of them and respect them for their compassion, committment, and integrity. Some of the claims on this blog as to the supposed motivations of people from SHARE have been outrageous and I've been frustrated that no one has spoken up to refute them.

    SHARE is a democratic organization with a very small and dedicated staff. Decisions are made democratically often under very difficult conditions. That sets them apart from many top down organizations that are much better funded and have PR spokespeople to defend them in public. SHARE puts all of its resources into empowering people to organize to help themselves and to advocate for themselves. That doesn't leave much time or energy for the bells and whistles.

  14. What about Congregations for the Homeless?

    A wonderful organization that screens the homeless that they serve AND they provide life coaching!

    “nwcitizen” too bad those that are so supportive of SHARE couldn't work with them to do the right thing and run the sex offender checks. The same exact checks that they have run since 2004 at Tent City 4. Instead, they were more than willing to force those they serve out for what? Because it is “un-american” for them to run checks in Ballard but not on the Eastside?

    On the flip side, Nickelsville currently has space available as they have moved to a new location as of Thursday and can now shelter up to 100 people. As of Thursday, they had 70 spots available, so perhaps that would be a good place for these men to go.

    Since both Nickelsville and SHARE are run by the same man (Scott Morrow) it should be an easy transition for them.

  15. Why indeed? SHARE has been running not only sex offender checks but outstanding warrant checks as well at their Tent City 4 location since 2004. In addition, Nickelsville, which is also run by SHARE man Scott Morrow, also claims to run sex offender checks according to Morrow.
    SHARE was originally caught lying to Ballard citizens back in May when the question of running checks first came up. At first, in the neighborhood public forum, SHARE stated they could not run the checks due to the cost involved. Evidence was then brought forward showing that the King County Sheriff's Dpt. had been running both outstanding warrant and sex offender checks for SHARE's Tent City 4 for FREE. They then tried to put a new spin on it by saying that running the checks was “un-american” but again documentation showed they had been running them at Tent City 4.
    One has to logically conclude that their steadfast refusal to run these checks in Ballard and instead leave these men without shelter means that they are knowingly harboring sex offenders.
    To recap-it was only due to an alert neighbor that the sex offender was “outed” in the first place. This person alerted this very “my ballard' forum of the fact there was a sex offender at the shelter back in September. After it was made public, SHARE had no choice but to remove them as they had been caught.

  16. From the get-go many of the direct neighbors of the Calvary building were suggesting organizations that help the homeless and are much more suitable for this situation. Unfortunately, none of us neighbors have any say in what Our Redeemers does with the building. But hopefully this time around the congregation's decision makers will listen to us. No one that I know personally in this neighborhood wants anyone to suffer needlessly but we also want a group in there that won't flip us off the minute we try to ask for a compromise. Which much good as SHARE has done in some ways, they really did essentially flip off everyone in the neighborhood when we said, “Could you please do sex offender background checks?” Then they went public with how we're a bunch of homeless-fearing-rich-bigots who are “un-American”. It's hard to have sympathy when a group acts like that after being offered a free space with what I'm sure where the best of intentions initially from Steve Grumm and Our Redeemers.

    I had hoped about a year ago O.R. would extend an invitation to the Church of Mary Magdalene Women's Day Shelter, but I think that ended up not being a good idea because it is too far away from the night shelters the women stay at and too far away from the resources they need downtown during the day. Which is too bad because that is a great organization that lost their long standing space downtown and I don't think they've found another yet.

  17. Level three is the highest on the list, not the lowest. Level III means that they are likely to reoffend.
    “These offenders pose a potential high risk to the community and are a threat to re-offend if provided the opportunity. Most have prior sex crime convictions as well as other criminal convictions. Their lifestyles and choices place them in this classification. Some have predatory characteristics and may seek out victims. They may have refused or failed to complete approved treatment programs. “

    My sister prosecuted these creeps for three years. Her take? That they don't want to stop BECAUSE THEY LIKE WHAT THEY ARE DOING. Most will only stop when they are dead.

    This, across the street fro a daycare and a block from a park.

    Good riddance.

  18. There seem to be some facts agreed upon by both sides.

    1: That at some share run tent cities, they DO warrant checks and sex offender checks. The KC sheriffs dept. does this for free.
    2: At the ballard share run shelter they do NOT run these checks. Reasons are really irrelevant but have been cost prohibitive and un-american.

    So that means Share has set up a system where offenders know they will be housed with no checks at the ballard site and to avoid the other camps where checks are known to take place. Facts point to Share willingly and purposefully setting up this discrepancy to house offenders and those with outstanding warrants. Plain truth given the facts.

  19. WHy can't the fedw concerned simply take these fine folks into their own homes? Much like the silly “affordable housing” BS that again got shoved down MY throat, I wish these lefties would lead by example, and show the way. But no, we'll all be confiscated more of our $$. And then there's the food bank. I call this “enabling”. Imagine keeping more or what YOU make each and every Friday? Doing what YOU want with YOUR $$ to keep these schlubs on the street and in our faces, day after day after day. I feel bad for the genuine “needy”, I really do. Is it a hand-up or a hand-out? Safety net or hammock? There is nothing “progressive” about any of this crap. Guilty white Ballard on further display. I hope what some call dissent is still patriotic!

  20. “Not living in that neighborhood”

    Ohhhhhh, I see! The shelter has ZERO impact on you, your home, your kids, your family, your neighborhood.

  21. Level 3 is the most dangerous, not the least, which is what SHARE was hiding at the shelter. How many more they had in there? No one knows. Plus the one they caught was NOT registered, he was caught by the system because he was an idiot and got his mail forwarded to that address. He was not in compliance.

  22. You know, the facts do point to that and I've been hesitant to say that they were doing all of this to willingly let men with warrants and previous sex offenses stay there – but when they decided to stick these men back out on the street instead of implementing background checks the same way they do at other shelters, what else could be their reason?

    My mom used to regularly donate to them, as did many of her rich friends. After this fiasco they are all horrified and will not be donating to SHARE ever again. In the end, it is the people who are homeless and struggling who will suffer. How an organization that claims to help the homeless can screw them over like this and have absolutely no remorse is really really sad.

  23. I take offense at your bashing of the Ballard Food Bank. Have you been there? Have you met and talked to many of the people who are clients there? They are not “street drunks” in most cases. No one is allowed to come into the food bank if they are intoxicated in any way and will be banned if it continues to happen. Their food program at Calvary was a fiasco and they will readily admit it. The rest of their program is NOT a fiasco. In the two years I volunteered there I saw plenty of struggling families with children. Now days there are families with young children whose primary bread winner was laid off and they can't afford their mortgage, student loans, etc. and food all at the same time with no job. Some of these people could be your neighbors and you don't realize it because they are too embarrassed to tell you. Many of the clients are also elderly and very sick and homebound and can not buy food because Medicare and social security do not cover all of their medical bills and they give up food to pay for things like their heart medicine and the like.

    Don't lump SHARE's self-righteous, messed-up agenda in with everyone who reaches out a hand to help when someone is hurt or struggling. SHARE is a bunch of whiny jokers but there are a lot of people who actually want to help – want to be a “hand-up” and not a “hand-out” and the Ballard Food Bank is one of them.

    I hope that if you are ever in trouble – have cancer and can't work or afford to pay all your medical bills because of it, or get severely injured and can't work again, or develop health problems such as Alzheimers when you're elderly – that there will be less people with your attitude around you and more people who are willing to help you.

  24. P.S. – I do totally agree with the “rich white man's guilt” thing. SHARE totally plays on that. It really pisses me off!

  25. seems to be when their were 100 plus comments on this in the begining..they all expressed the same concern. I was the Pastor of the church who overrode the concern and sided with SHARE…that is my huge it closes, so between SHARE and the Pastor they basically set it up to fail, when it could have been organized to be more successful and had the potential of communtity support…doing things half assed never works..and this is why…exposing families to risks that could have been mitigated is unexcusable!

  26. first of all, i'm not using liberal as a political term.

    it's a free for all. no stringent guidelines or boundaries. this is my OPINION.

  27. Now that the negotiations are over, will those who actually participated in those negotiations step up and tell us what actually happened and why the church and SHARE could not come to an agreement?

    We all need a reality check here.

  28. They already did explain what happened, can't you read. SHARE refused to do the checks and the church, wisely, probably realized it didn't have the liability or the stomach to risk busing in child rapists into a quiet, residential neighborhood.

  29. He was a convicted Level 3 child rapist that had multiple convictions, one for a second attempt at going after a young boy. He had just been released from jail for 3 days when he checked into the SHARE shelter in Ballard.

  30. While I agree some of what SHARE does is commendable, the thing that mystifies me is why SHARE doesn't do more to assist those staying in their shelters to break the cycle of homelessness by providing services such as permanent housing solutions,vocational assistance and substance abuse services or at least be actively collaborating with agencies that provide these services. I've heard some people have stayed in their shelters for years.
    It seems SHARE would gain a ton more respect and support from the community if they were making more an effort to to encourage and support those staying in their shelters to become more self-sufficient.

  31. The extra services you mention cost money which SHARE does not have.

    Many people on this blog talk about homeless people as less than human and needing to be repaired in some way. This is a very demeaning attitude IMO.

    The SHARE model is very different from that of many other non-profit organizations. I encourage you to read about it so that you can understand the decision making process. It is important to note that paid staff do not have a vote in this process including Scott Morrow.

    “SHARE and WHEEL are self-organized, democratic, grassroots organizations of homeless and formally homeless individuals. SHARE was founded in 1990 and WHEEL was founded in 1993. For 15 years we have been working to eradicate homelessness, educate the community, and empower homeless people. “

    “We practice self-management because it acknowledges and promotes the innate dignity of each person. All major decisions are made organizing meetings that all members are encouraged to attend, participate, and vote in.”

  32. Why does SHARE do more to assist those staying in their shelters to break the cycle of homelessness by providing services? That's easy.

    They don't *want* to break the cycle of homelessness. Ask them – they'll tell you straight out that living in their tent encampments is a lifestyle choice, and their right.

    This is not a some hidden agenda that they're subtle about – they're quite open about it. They demand that the public financially support their lifestyle choice.

  33. Scozafazo, you are completely right. I work in public health, and have had several of my patients who are living in SHARE shelters (healthy, white males, btw) tell me exactly that. “It's my lifestyle choice.”

  34. sex offender status is opposite of most crimes. while 3rd degree anything else in the penal code is usually a less severe offense, in the sex offender status, level 3 is the worst and most likely to re-offend.

  35. My point EXACTLY…They are not doing ANYTHING to eradicate homelessness. In fact, many people are looking at SHARE as a bit of a joke because they seem to perpetuate homelessness. No end in site…just camp forever in our shelters.
    Giving referrals to agencies in the community that would help their residents move onward and upward doesn't cost SHARE a dime and in my opinion would gain them some respect in the community.

  36. PS- We all know the history and policies of SHARE. I used to be behind SHARE 150%. After this fiasco at Calvary, I am thinking the model needs to be re-invented and I have to say I for one no longer support SHARE.

  37. There are too many SHARE residents who have lived there for years and have no plans of leaving. One man, Bruce Thomas, was quoted as saying he is a “street musician” and living in a tent fits his “lifestyle.” He has been living in a tent for 9+ yrs. He is but one of many who is a “lifer” at SHARE.

    And it does not cost money to provide transitional services. All it takes is the ability to connect the homeless with providers and services that they may need. There is no fee in that.

    Congregations for the Homeless provides life coaching to the men they serve. These coaches are volunteers.

    SHARE is a political group whose mission is not to break the cycle of homelessness, but to instead perpetuate it.

  38. I live around the corner from the food bank, and I think they're doing a great job. I have no complaints about them at all. In the whole time I've lived in this area (over a decade), the only real problem I've ever had related to their presence was once when one food bank visitor parked in front of my driveway, which was hardly their fault. The vast majority of the people who go there are utterly unremarkable in appearance and behavior, and of the few who are acting oddly the vast majority seem quite harmless.

  39. wouldn't you rather know where the level 3 s.o. lives rather than him/her being homeless and therefore 'anywhere' in your neighborhood? also, this person served his/her time – if you think ppl who are sex offenders should be indef detained, write your congress-person.

  40. The very definition of a level III sex offender is “most likely to reoffend.” And there about 400 homelss level III sex offenders in Seattle- I see no reason to house a child rapist across the street from a daycare.

    Actually there are some sex offenders still in prison who have “served their time” because they pose such a threat to the community.

Leave a Reply