Wednesday, November 3, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

E-mail article     Print

Seattle U. to host Tent City 3 as school focuses on poverty

Seattle Times staff reporter

In what campus officials describe as a good way to meld the school's mission with real-world experience, Seattle University will host Tent City 3 early next year.

The roving homeless encampment, now at El Centro de la Raza community center on Beacon Hill, will be moving to the Jesuit university for a month starting Jan. 29.

The invitation comes as the school is focusing on the issues of consumption and poverty through forums, discussions and other events.

"Hosting and offering help to this group of homeless men and women is the right thing for Seattle University to do on many levels," the Rev. Stephen Sundborg, a Jesuit and president of the university, said in a letter to parents.

The move allows the school to "offer a secure, well-situated venue without disruption to our students and neighbors" and to "create meaningful learning and service opportunities for students, faculty and staff."

There appears to be little organized opposition to the plan. Ronald Boddie, president of the Squire Park Community Council, said the council supports the plan, and he himself is on the university's Tent City 3 planning committee.

Tent City 3 is one of two roving homeless encampments. About 90 people live in the camp, which has moved about 40 times since its founding in 2000. It will move to Riverton Park United Methodist Church in Tukwila at the end of this month before moving to Seattle University.

Tent City 4, set up earlier this year and currently in an industrial area in Woodinville, has been the subject of contentious battles on the Eastside. Neighbors of previous Tent City 4 locations have said they had little notice or opportunity to voice their opinions before the encampment moved into their neighborhoods.

The tent cities are coordinated by SHARE/WHEEL, two nonprofit organizations that serve the homeless. The first two tent cities no longer exist.

Tent City 3 will be on the outdoor, fenced tennis courts at Cherry Street between 13th and 14th avenues, a few blocks from Seattle University's main campus.

"If the community feels security, transportation and access to services are good, we have no problem with it," said Steven Pyeatt, a Kirkland resident and member of King County's Citizens Advisory Commission on Homeless Encampments. "Our problem has been if a decision's been made and the community has no say in it."

Seattle University officials say that they've had a few e-mails from concerned parents, but that they have tried to allay concerns by detailing security measures, which include supplementing Tent City's internal security with stepped-up campus patrols. The university has also held public forums on the issue and is working with the local neighborhood council, said Joe Orlando, co-chairman of the campus' Tent City 3 planning committee.

Various university departments are planning to offer services to Tent City or to integrate it into their own educational programs.

Students and faculty at the law and nursing schools are talking about providing a law clinic and a health clinic for residents, while the social work, criminal-justice and education departments are talking about how they might incorporate the encampment into what they're learning in class, Orlando said.

"I'm glad we're doing it," said Zebo Willis, a resident of Tent City 3 who also helps run the camp. "Anything that brings the attention to the problem in a good way and at the same time helps educate the next generation is what I consider a good idea."

Janet I. Tu: 206-464-2272 or

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company


Get home delivery today!