Image via City of Redmond.

Today's loser: SHARE/WHEEL.

Tent City 4, currently located at St. John Vianney Church in Kirkland, announced today that it is splitting from SHARE/WHEEL, which started Tent City to house homeless individuals and families without access to other shelter. Tent City 4 residents plan to reorganize as "Camp Unity." 

The break came after SHARE leader Scott Morrow objected to warrant and sex offender background checks for people who want to live at the camp. Tent City residents say the pastor of the church requested, and they agreed, that they do weekly background checks on all their residents after a resident, a man accused of raping a child, was arrested at the church.

According to a letter from Tent City 4 bookkeeper Mike Messer sent to reporters, Morrow has refused to allow the weekly background checks on the grounds that they violate residents' privacy. 

Tent City is one of the few homeless shelters in the area that accepts women and families as well as single men. 

"There has been a long history of disagreements between TC4 and Mr. Morrow and usually we're able to agree to disagree but this time is different," Messer's letter says. "TC4 is going to do weekly checks on everybody at Tent City 4 whether Mr. Morrow likes it or not. We have also started working towards breaking away from the Share/Wheel organization and becoming independent.

"Mr. Morrow no longer communicates with us and he has changed the password on our e-mail account. He has also stopped giving us bus tickets and we feel we can no longer work with him." 

SHARE has a different view of the split. On their web site, they say they are "closing" the camp because residents changed the policy regarding sex offender checks without a meeting with "appropriate St. John Vianney leaders," forcing SHARE to shut the camp down and remove all their equipment, bathroom facilities, and Dumpster. 

"We deeply grieve the pain this will cause the present host of SHARE/WHEEL’s Tent City4," the group said in a statement. "We will respect whatever decision they make in regard to the future.

"We cannot recommend that the present host of Tent City4 continue the encampment without SHARE/WHEEL:  The Leadership and significant numbers of the Tent City4 Community have broken their promises to the SHARE Community of individuals staying together and safe in Tent City 3 and the 15 indoor shelters.  They have acted deceitfully, disrespectfully, and undemocratically.

"If the present host chooses to continue an encampment on their property, SHARE cannot be liable for the consequences of that decision.

SHARE has had conflicts with residents of its shelters and Tent Cities in the past. SHARE routinely threatens to shut all its shelters down unless the city gives it more free bus tickets, and in 2009, members of the group said they were kicked out of shelters and forced to participate in protests outside city officials' houses—protests that could have gotten them arrested.

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