Lawsuit Seeks to Block ‘Tent City’ Homeless Initiative

Post a Comment » Written on July 25th, 2008     
Filed under: News
MERCER ISLAND, WA (July 25, 2008) – A group of Mercer Island residents has filed a lawsuit to block a Tent City homeless encampment from moving into the neighborhood.

The lawsuit, which was filed July 10, is set for trial on December 28, 2009, but the suit asks that an injunction be granted before August 5 in order to stop the move. A hearing on the injunction is scheduled for Monday.

Greg Asimakoupoulos, pastor of Mercer Island Covenant Church, is president of the Mercer Island Clergy Association that announced plans more than a year ago to bring the encampment known as Tent City 4 to the area. The association is working with SHARE/WHEEL, which sponsors Tent City 4.

“We don’t want to be viewed as the suburb of the city that’s blind to the needs of people of metropolitan Seattle,” Asimakoupoulos said at the time. He added that the churches were willing to “push the boundaries” of their comfort zone in the community where the median value of a home was $721,453 in 2006.

Covenant church members already have begun signing up to provide funds and deliver meals. They also are expressing willingness to participate in any other needed activities.

Tent City encampments of roughly 100 people have settled in several area communities since 2004 and commonly stay in one location for three months. Lawsuits have largely been ineffective in stopping the encampments.

Mercer Island granted a temporary use agreement allowing the camp to set up on the parking lot of the Mercer Island United Methodist Church. The agreement formalizes the common guidelines already used by the camp. The camp is self-governing and follows a strict code of conduct. Tent City residents are screened for sexual convictions and for outstanding warrants, drugs and alcohol are prohibited and rules forbid loitering in the neighborhood. The camp provides around-the-clock security for the protection of its residents and neighbors.

Law-enforcement officials say they don’t believe extra personnel will be needed to monitor the camp. Crime issues surrounding the camp have been negligible in other cities, they add.

Defendants are named as Tent City 4, SHARE/WHEEL, the Mercer Island United Methodist Church, and the City of Mercer Island. The Covenant church is not named.

For more information on the camp and the city’s response, see MERCER ISLAND.

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