• Tent City 3 says goodbye to SPU campus -- under much different circumstances

    By: Joanna Small

    Updated:

    SEATTLE - A controversial Seattle homeless camp forced out of its last location early is now leaving its latest location -- under much different circumstances. 

    For the last three months Tent City 3 has been on the Seattle Pacific University campus.

    “I think it’s going to be really empty on campus right here. With the grass it will look really bare,” said junior SPU student Elisa Raney.

    Last moving day in December, the city of Seattle forced the homeless camp off an unsanctioned piece of property in the Roosevelt neighborhood a month early.

    “They weren’t happy with us being there, I can tell you that,” Roger Franz, the camp manager, remembered.

    So not only did SPU graciously pay for the camp’s permitting, install bathrooms, and accept the 60-plus men and women early, but it made them a  part of the SPU community.

    It didn’t start out that way; the school told us when the camp first moved onto campus a lot of parents emailed asking -- “why are you putting my kids in danger?” 

    But what a difference three months makes. 

    During the first and worst years, Tent City 3 moved more than two dozen times out of far less welcoming locations for that very reason.

    “It was really neat to meet people and have them here constantly so we could build relationships and get to know each other’s stories, say hi while passing by,” Elisa explained.

    She is one of a dozen or more students who studied the camp for a class. 

    Professors will eventually use her field notes to write a book, but she says her relationship with residents like Christopher Carter is more important than any study -- so on this moving day new friends are dragging out the goodbyes.

    “I’ve learned that SPU has heart. If it wasn’t for the heart they have or the heart in the student body then this wouldn’t be,” Christopher concluded.

    Tent City 3 is relocating to a church in Shoreline that has hosted them before. 

    The SPU students will continue their research there. 

    Right now the City of Seattle is considering a Mayor Ed Murray proposal -- to allow three permanent tent cities.

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