New Seattle Ordinance makes it easier for churches to house the homeless

The Beat welcomes, even celebrates,  this news – doesn’t if feel like winter is almost here? Around Lake Union hundreds of homeless folks mingle with the techies and houseboaters and hipsters …..

According to this year’s One Night Count, more than 1,700 homeless men and woman spend the night on Seattle streets. The Seattle City Council hopes that number will go down after it voted unanimously to make it easier for religious institutions, such as churches and mosques, to host shelters.

With the Oct. 3 passage of a bill proposed by Mayor Mike McGinn in June, religious institutions will no longer need to get a permit from the city to host a homeless camp. They will, however, have to adhere to new health and safety standards, such as a 100-person limit, available toilets and running water, fire safety and inspections by city departments.

Pastor Steve Grumm at Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church in Ballard, which has hosted a number of camps in the past, said it is natural for churches to be involved in helping those living on the street because it is a way of connecting with the heart of God.

The bill is part of a resolution passed in may to help the city’s homeless population not being served by the established shelter system.

“I want to thank the city council for recognizing the fundamental rights of religious institutions to care for people in need,” McGinn said in an Oct. 3 statement. “The assistance of the broader community is critical.”

Bryan Stevens, spokesperson for the Seattle Department of Planning and Development, said the bill gives religious facilities more flexibility when it comes to hosting camps. It also brings the city in line with state law prohibiting cities from imposing unnecessary conditions on religious organizations hosting camps on their property.

Under the new ordinance, non-religious institutions are allowed to host shelters, but they still need to obtain a temporary use permit from the city.

thanks to KOMO for the story (used with permission)

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