Highlights from today’s SHARE shelter meeting

A meeting was held today at the Mosaic Coffeehouse, led by Pastor Jami Fecher from Gift of Grace, who invited the community to participate in an interactive discussion concerning the SHARE shelter.  He encouraged everyone in attendance to “engage with intentional good will,” and to be able to hear and understand one another.  Attendees of the 90-minute meeting included neighbors of the church, Gift of Grace congregation members, and preschool parents, among others.  Woody Pidcock, a member of the Gift of Grace congregation, served as moderator for the meeting.  Pastor Fecher clarified that Woody was not present to share his opinions, but to serve as moderator and to “help call on people and to keep things going in an orderly fashion.”

Neighbors—some of which were also parents of children who attend Huckleberry Forest—asked why they weren’t involved in the decision-making process to house the shelter at the church, and why a meeting [like today’s] couldn’t have been held six months to a year ago.  Another neighbor addressed issues of broken trust, but was hopeful that “we can make something more out of this,” though, he indicated, it would take a lot of work by the neighborhood and the church.  One woman remarked that her community had “changed overnight” and that many people share her concern for “fear of the unknown.”  She wondered how SHARE was willing to work with the community to ensure accountability.

A neighbor who identified himself as Mark said that he was glad he was there for the discussion and hoped the community can work together to make SHARE a better organization.  He explained his previous experience in working with homeless shelters in Washington, D.C., and said that ID checking is a common practice in other cities as the first step in breaking the cycle of homelessness.

Mark mentioned that in Maryland, a homeless person could get a letter from the sheriff’s office that indicates they have no criminal record; then, they can get a library card; then they can get a photo ID, and then, a job. Once they get a job, they can get housing.  He was concerned that he saw no evidence that breaking this cycle was a part of SHARE’s mission.  “It really makes me angry to see an organization of this size to be this bad at what [they] do.”

Pastor Jami said, “I have a hope that the Lutheran Pastors [who] are the hosts of shelters will get together to improve the processes.  I have good reason to believe that’s going to happen.”  He also hoped that the SHARE shelter would be an asset to the community and “especially the community right around the church.” Furthermore, he expects that SHARE will “abide by their agreement and keep things clean around the church.”

Rich Gamble, pastor of Keystone Church in Tangletown shared his experience in working with Nickelsville last year, when they phoned him looking for emergency shelter.   A decision to help the tent city was put to a vote by the congregation and then brought to the preschool, which was supportive of Nickelsville being onsite for a month.   Karen, a preschool mother at the Wallingford Co-op Preschool during that time added that “decisions were made quickly and there were obvious concerns, but the communications were made clear about the boundaries and the month went smooth.  As a parent, the safety of my child was never an issue.  I’m actually happy this is happening and I hope [it] to be as successful.”

Ana, who introduced herself as a part of the steering committee at the Gift of Grace addressed the question as to why the neighborhood hadn’t been informed earlier saying, “The reason may be completely naïve, I didn’t even think, ‘Oh I should ask the neighbors’. It didn’t even cross my mind.  I wish it would have, but it didn’t.”

Mark, the neighbor who spoke earlier, proposed to spend the last 15 minutes of the meeting coming up with a pragmatic approach to the issue.  He proposed an identification process for the members living in the shelter and “we determine within a reasonable amount of time—maybe a month—that we demand IDs of some portion of that population.”  He suggested maybe of the 15 people in that shelter, over time, 13 of them have ID.   “If there are 7 guys who are there night after night, they should have IDs.  Otherwise, it’s a hideout.”

“I don’t care if there are level 2 sex offenders staying in the shelter.  I just want to have them to have to register,” he added, “because that’s the community standard, and the community standard’s been violated.”

He said he had talked to neighborhood police officer, Loren Street, to be a part of the group as well and asked that neighbors, members of the church and SHARE to get involved.

The next meeting will be held on October 23, from 10:30-12:00 p.m. at the Mosaic Coffee House.

  • Recovering Lutheran

    I wish the people who have volunteered to be on the “team” luck. Too bad the church essentially volunteered a situation where your time and energy are needed. Writing concerns on paper does not end the concerns. Talk about (GoG) having all the answers and a heavenly stamp of approval.
    [From the GoG website:]
    >>God’s Work at 40th and Meridian<<

    (Q&A) 5.Did SHARE coach Pastor Jami Fecher to not communicate with Wallingford neighbors about plans to host a SHARE site?
    Answer: No.
    (Q&A) 6. Why didn’t the church engage the Wallingford Community like it is doing now 6 months ago?

    Answer: The church didn’t think that homeless persons arriving after 7pm by bus in front of the church, staying inside all night, and leaving by bus at 7am would have any impact on the neighborhood. It is difficult to know when a church needs to notify its neighbors formally regarding activities related to its mission. Gift of Grace didn’t do it when the church decided to host the preschool. Gift of Grace also didn’t do it when the church decided to host Alcoholics Anonymous or the Flute Players. And, Gift of Grace didn’t do it when the church began Grace Feast a year ago, which has been attended by some of the same persons who are now residents in the SHARE site.<<

  • Guy

    As for SHARE not coaching the pastor, I mean come on! We have seen info from other churches saying that they did it there, and we’ve also seen this pastor is not afraid to lie – and lie often – to get what he wants. Oh, he’ll claim he’s not lying, but he seems very comfortable twisting facts or omitting them altogether to get what he wants (still waiting to get his definition of “deal breaker”).

    Yes, the church didn’t think there would be any issue with bringing a bus-load homeless from downtown to live in Wallingford for a year – that’s why they gave the neighbors one-week’s notice, and then only those within 500 feet. Everyone else found out two days before, if they happened to read the GoG website.

    “Gosh, but we didn’t notify the neighbors that a preschool was going in (there were signs prominently posted) or about AA or the often mentioned Flute Players (both supervised and happen once a week for an hour), or Gracefeast (also supervised, once a week for an hour).”

    Fetcher really does the whole disingenuous thing well. I’m surprised there wasn’t another mean swipe at the preschool in these selective notes, although I noticed in reading them that, even though the preschool was one of the things brought up at the meeting, it is nowhere represented in the notes posted on GoG’s site:
    http://www.giftofgrace.org/?p=62#more-62

  • Rondi

    I don’t know if anyone is still following this post, but the Rev. Bill Kirlin-Hackett, Director of the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness, Church Council of Greater Seattle has posted a comment in response to the City of Seattle Ideascale #47 on this site as follows:

    The collective ignorance posing as intelligence from those seeking to end the funding and thus the work of SHARE is not surprising. With regard to the reality of homelessness, opinion is abundant. Sadly and almost every time, the lack of intelligence where opinion degrades those working to end homelessness and/or provide a safe place to sleep every night is evident. Critics, including the hallowed web collections like the hate-mongering tent city solutions leader(s), rely upon never looking at a whole picture. Their ability to describe reality is always jaded by their hatred of the poor. Sorry intelligensa of Seattle, this manifest opposition to SHARE is indeed hatred of the poor. You are now fully part of the Bot-hell movement, red-state inspired and trickling into where you live. It’s hate now issuing from you. It is most evident in how those of you complaining fully ignore the poor and homeless until they come within sight of your neighborhood. Shame on you. And yes, please oh please, bash me next, because that is one of the few tools available to those who hate. I’d rather you bash me and then leave the homeless using indoor congregational shelters to get a good night’s sleep; something, to be sure, you clearly take for granted as valuable. A safe place,.. what a concept, clearly beyond your comprehension! You want fancier indoor shelters? You want better housing than tents? Put up or shut up; but if you can’t shut up, come after me, because there is no amount of your garbage I’ve not heard (and dismissed as ignorance), and I can take all you can give so long as it deflects from your direct hatred toward the homeless. I repeat, shame on you. If you have children, measure this as the teaching you provide so they too know how to hate as they grow. The alternative is teaching them how to love. Up to it? I think you might watch the children who do visit the homeless and know by nature how to care for their neighbors in need. If you are ignorant how to do that, how to care for your neighbors in need — who by the way also pay taxes thanks to the shelters in which they stay being largely funded by sales taxes — be in touch. Though, I must add, you will have to stop this rant of hating that is so easy, so convenient, and lest you haven’t noticed, so wrong.

    I find Rev. Kirlin-Hackett’s post very insightful as to the position of the churches on homeless issues. If we disagree we are haters.

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