Frequently Asked Questions

What is Tent City and what is Tent City 3?

Tent City was developed in 1990 as a means of providing safe shelter for up to 100 homeless adult men and women. There are currently two Tent Cities operating in King County: Tent City 4 operates outside the city limits of Seattle and Tent City 3 principally operates within city limits. Tent City 3, which SU hosted in February of 2005, has been hosted by several area churches including the Jesuit parish of St. Josephs on Capitol Hill and Cherry Hill Baptist Church located near Seattle University.

Why did Seattle University decide to host Tent City 3?

Consistent with its Jesuit Catholic mission, Seattle University hosted Tent City 3 to provide needed help to this community of men and women, and to bring educational focus to the issue of homelessness. Like other university initiatives such as our legal and health clinics, hosting Tent City 3 extended the resources of our campus in a way that tapped into and honed the talents and service commitment of faculty, staff and students.

How does Tent City operate?

Tent City is sponsored by Seattle Housing and Resource Efforts (SHARE) and Women's Housing, Equality, and Enhancement League (WHEEL), two non-profit organizations working together to serve the homeless in the city of Seattle. At Tent City, an elected council of residents governs the community, and enforces a strict code of conduct. This code includes a policy of no tolerance of drugs, alcohol or weapons, and no verbal or physical abuse. Additionally, no sex offenders are allowed in Tent City. Those in violation of the code of conduct must leave the community. Two security workers from the community are on duty at all times and check in with all visitors. Quiet hours are observed from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Did Seattle University supplement Tent City's security?

Yes. Seattle University's Office of Public Safety created a comprehensive security plan to supplement Tent City's security responsibilities. The SU Safety and Security Plan involved stepped up patrols, 24/7, of the campus and surrounding neighborhood, and a report and respond communications network.

Where was Tent City 3 located while at SU February of 2005?

Tent City occupied a section of Seattle University's outdoor tennis courts, located a few blocks from the main campus on Cherry Street, between 13th and 14th Avenues. The tennis courts, unused during the winter months, are fenced and lightly screened with trees offering privacy to Tent City residents, and minimizing the visual impact to the neighboring community.

Did Tent City residents have access to campus buildings during their stay?

Only by specific invitation of Seattle University for panels, course discussions or events.

What is the background behind SU's decision to host Tent City?

In the fall of 2003, Seattle University President Stephen V. Sundborg S.J. invited the university community to read Radical Compassion, a book written by a Jesuit priest about his experience working with the homeless in Portland, Oregon. Nearly 400 books were distributed to faculty, staff and board members. A committee was convened in the spring of 2004 to consider ways to follow up on the reading of the book. During this period, a doctoral student group was developing an idea to host Tent City at SU. Their doctoral project paper was transformed into a full proposal to the university. Seattle University's executive leadership adopted the proposal in September 2004.

Who was consulted before making SU made the decision to host Tent City 3?

Input was sought from many individuals and organizations, including past Tent City hosts, city and county officials, Tent City residents, experts on homelessness, and community policing officers.

Did tuition dollars go to support Tent City 3?

The use of the space on the outdoor tennis courts was the essential, in-kind contribution SU made to Tent City for the hosting time period. There were only a few actual budget costs, including printing costs for a reader and other educational materials, that were absorbed in the SU general budget.