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Tent City 3

Tent City 3

FAQ: Your Questions Answered

What is a “Tent City”?

Tent Cities have been operating since 1990, and Tent City 3 began in 2000 on private land at Seattle's MLK Way and S. Charleston Street.

In 2002, Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr, El Centro de la Raza, and SHARE/WHEEL signed a consent decree giving the encampment an ongoing permit and set forth its operating principles. Today, TC3 provides safe shelter for up to 100 men, women, and couples.

Where does Tent City 3 usually operate?

Tent City 3 operates primarily in Seattle, but also in Burien, SeaTac, and Shoreline. Tent City 4 operates on the east side of Lake Washington.

Why is TC3 coming to the Seattle Pacific campus?

Beginning in 2010, SPU students initiated conversations with SPU administration about hosting Tent City 3. Those students were passionate about how hosting the encampment would be educational for our community and a tangible way of living out our mission. SPU hosted Tent City 3 on Wallace Field in Winter Quarter, 2012.

President Dan Martin recently announced SPU's plan to host Tent City 3 in Winter Quarter, 2015. Building on our past experiences with Tent City 3 and with increased attention directed to academic integration, service-learning and awareness building, this experience promises to be an important learning opportunity for students and the rest of the SPU community.


Where will TC3 be located on the Seattle Pacific campus, and for how long?

Tent City 3 will be located on the East lawn near the Student Union Building.  SPU will host TC3 through March 7, 2015.

What about security and sanitation?

Tent cities have a strict code of conduct for residents. Residents must commit to a code of conduct that prohibits intoxication, drugs and violence. Sex offenders are not allowed to stay at Tent CIty 3. Tent City 3 also has security workers, and the expectation is for community service to be performed by residents within and around the facility.

Community tents are used for food preparation, computers, a front entrance/desk, and meeting area.

Additionally, TC3 residents provide their own trash removal, have a shower facility and port-a-potties, and residents have access to bus tickets for work and/or appointments.

SPU's Office of Safety and Security has met with the TC3 leadership regarding safety and security. Measures have been taken to provide a safe environment for TC3 and SPU. Because the Tiffany Loop location provides less privacy than the 2012 Wallace Field location allowed for TC3 residents, a privacy-screen fence will be erected around the camp.

Who’s in charge?

Tent City 3 is part of Seattle Housing and Resource Effort (SHARE/WHEEL). Founded in 1990, its mission is to “eradicate homelessness, educate the community, and empower homeless people.” SHARE is a self-managed entity that helps to coordinate 15 indoor shelters and two tent cities.

While at SPU, a coordinating committee of staff, faculty, and students will continue to facilitate all university efforts. This committee will meet weekly with TC3 leaders to discuss all issues that arise. If you need to contact the SPU committee, please email

Which SPU facilities will the residents of TC3 use?

Tent City 3 is a self-managed community of about 100 adults. Many of them have jobs and/or appointments that result in them leaving the camp during the day. Similar to 2012, TC3 residents will have access to public spaces such as the Student Union Building and the Library. TC3 residents are also invited to Chapel and any public lectures and concerts. The Athletics Department will provide TC3 with tickets to Falcon sporting events. TC3 residents may be invited to attend classes as guest speakers. As in 2012, TC3 residents will not enter campus residences, and SPU students won’t enter TC3 personal tent areas.

What about empowerment? Do tent cities promote an end to homelessness?

Tent cities provide a needed but temporary resource on the way to an end to homelessness. King County is home to roughly 9,000 individuals experiencing homelessness, yet only about 6,000 emergency shelter beds exist in King County (Committee to End Homelessness, 2014. This leaves more than 3,000 people without any form of shelter each night (Seattle-King County Coalition on Homelessness, 2014.

Tent cities provide a consistent place to keep one’s belongings as well as a community-supervised safe space to live, allowing residents to focus on issues other than where they will find to sleep that night. This flexibility allows tent city residents the opportunity to search for work, attend appointments and plan for the future (Loftus-Farren, 2011). Additionally, by providing temporary shelter for individuals capable of self-management, tent cities create space in the over-full traditional shelter system for individuals in need of supervision.

Where can I get a quick overview of the issue of homelessness in Seattle?

Visit the “Resources for Faculty” tab on this webpage for a short film in which people from the Seattle area share their experience of becoming homeless. After that, take a look at the 2014 annual report from the City of Seattle’s Committee to End Homelessness and the “The Role of Shelter in Addressing Homelessness,” from the Seattle-King County Coalition on Homelessness.

Can we visit?

TC3 is home for its residents. About half of them leave each day and go to jobs and/or appointments. There will be times available for tours, but please respect residents’ privacy and honor their dignity. For more information, contact

How can we help?

You will have many opportunities to learn and serve. TC3 residents are open to many different interactions: Some are willing to speak in classes; some are willing to be a part of student club activities. Check out the forums to come.

What if I see emergency vehicles at Tent City 3?

Living outside takes a toll on one’s body; homelessness is a challenging physical experience. In 2012 a number of aid calls brought emergency vehicles to Tent City 3. It should be noted that in 2012 SPU’s Office of Safety and Security reported no complaints of threats or violence from Tent City 3 residents against members of the SPU community.



Quick Facts

  • Security is 24/7 at TC3
  • Quiet hours: 9 p.m.–8 a.m.
  • Self-managed community

    Strict rules — sobriety, no violence, no drugs
  • Eligibility is based on government-issued photo ID
  • 100 residents maximum
  • Single men and women; couples