Encampments

Homeless encampments in the Puget Sound Region

As of April 2017, there are twelve formal encampments around Puget Sound where people who are homeless can live. The SHARE/WHEEL camps (Tent City 3, Tent City 4, Tent City 5), the Nickelsville camps (Nickelsville Ballard, Nickelsville Union Tiny House Village, Nickelsville Georgetown Tiny House Village and Nickelsville Othello) and the independent camps (Camp Unity Eastside, Camp United We Stand, Camp Second Chance) are all self-managing camps that do not allow drugs, alcohol or any kind of violence, and that require residents to participate in serving the camp and in decision making. Violation of these rules results in disciplinary action, up to the resident being barred from the camp.

Licton Spring Village is a new, low-barrier camp supported by the City of Seattle and managed by SHARE/WHEEL and LIHI. We will post more information about Licton Springs on this website as it becomes available.

SHARE/WHEEL camps

There are four camps that are managed by SHARE/WHEEL, a non-profit organization run by and for people who are or have been homeless. SHARE/WHEEL runs Tent City 3Tent City 4Tent City 5 and Licton Springs Tiny House Village.

Generally speaking, Tent City 3 moves from host to host every three months on the west side of Lake Washington, from Shoreline in the North to Tukwila in the south. Tent City 3 can house up to 100 residents, with a one-night emergency capacity of 120.

Tent City 4 has in the past moved from host to host on the east side of Lake Washington, however, recent difficulties in finding churches willing to host the camp has led the residents to move to non-permitted sites. Tent City 4 can house up to 100 residents with a one-night emergency capacity of 120.

Tent City 5 is one of six camps authorized by the City of Seattle to be sited on municipal land and receiving some financial support from the city. These camps are part of the city’s response to the rising level of homelessness (2015 levels were 21% higher than in 2014, and 2016 levels rose another 19% over that) and the deaths of 57 homeless people on the streets in 2015. Unlike the other camps, which have to move around, these camps will be stable for at least one year, with a possible extension for a second year. Housing about 75 residents, Tent City 5 offers optional case management services through a partnership with the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI).

Licton Springs village, opened in April 2017, is a low-barrier tiny house village sited on private land, financially supported in part by the City of Seattle, and co-managed by SHARE/WHEEL and LIHI. This tiny house village will accept residents who are still struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. Unlike all the other camps in the Puget Sound, this community is not self-managed, but has paid staff on site. We will add more information about Licton Springs as it becomes available.

Independent camps

Camp Unity Eastside is a camp of no more than 100 residents that moves from host to host on the east side of Lake Washington. Camp Unity has formed its own non-profit organization which a board of directors that manages the camp, and residents contribute $1/day toward the cost of running the camp.

Camp United We Stand is a smaller self-managed camp of no more than 35 was established in late 2014 by former residents of Tent City 3. So far, CUWS has been hosted exclusively in North Seattle and Shoreline. With Greater Seattle Cares’ assistance, this camp has also formed a non-profit organization with its own board of directors to provide legal organization to the camp. As at Camp Unity, residents at Camp United We Stand contribute $1/day toward the cost of running the camp.

Camp Second Chance was established in April 2016 by 25 residents who had been living at Tent City 3. Hosted initially in Tukwila, this self-managing camp was unable to find a second host and moved in mid-2016 onto unpermitted land belonging to the City of Seattle in White Center. In late 2016, responding to the steadily rising level of homelessness in the city, the Seattle Mayor formally authorized this camp, providing financial support through Patacara Community Services, and increasing the permitted population to 70 living in up to 50 tents and Tiny Houses. This camp is permitted for a year, with a possible extension.

Nickelsville camps

All Nickelsville locations accept single people, couples, families, and pets. Sex offenders are not accepted. Government issued photo ID required. These camps offer optional case management services through a partnership with the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI).

Nickelsville Ballard receives some funding from the City of Seattle and is authorized to stay on public land on NW Market Street in Ballard for one-two years. This camp, being more permanent that most camps, has platforms for the tents and a small number of “tiny houses” than are available to campers on the basis of seniority. 

Nickelsville Union Tiny House Village is being hosted by Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd at 22nd and Union. This camp is made up entirely of tiny houses, which do have electricity. There are real toilets and a shower at this camp. Residents pay $90/month toward utilities. Nickelsville Union is self-managing and overseen by the  Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI).

Nickelsville Othello Village is another city-supported camp located at 7544 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. It is a mixture of tiny houses and tents.

Nickelsville Georgetown Tiny House Village was opened in March 2017 on public land belonging to the City of Seattle in the Georgetown neighborhood. Receiving some financial support from the city and managed by Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), this self-managed camp is made up of 40 houses. This camp is permitted for a year, with a possible one-year extension.

What is Greater Seattle Cares’ role with these camps?

Greater Seattle Cares provides logistical support to Tent City 3, Camp Unity, Camp United We Stand, and Camp Second Chance. This includes coordination of the meal calendars (except TC3, whose meal calendar is managed by SHARE), direct provision of some meals, distribution of donated items, and purchase of needed items to assure food, clothing and shelter to the residents of these camps. GSC also provides some limited support to Tent City 4 and Tent City 5. As GSC grows in its volunteer base and financial stability, it hopes to provide this same support to additional groups of homeless people in the Puget Sound region.