September 11

SHARE shelter opening at Gift of Grace Lutheran



An indoor homeless shelter will soon be housed at Gift of Grace Lutheran Church in Wallingford (2102 N 40th Street).  The evening shelter will be operated by SHARE,  a group that runs several shelters around the Seattle area. 

Church member Vivian Little tells us the shelter is anticipated to operate at Gift of Grace for one year, although they will assess it on an ongoing basis with the congregation and the community.  The church has notified nearby neighbors and invited them to attend an informational lunch and meeting at the church tomorrow (9/12) at noon.  MyWallingford will be there and we’ll post a report immediately following the meeting.

SHARE shelters in other neighborhoods have generated plenty of community discussion, including one in Ballard and another recently in Green Lake.  SHARE has a screening procedure, but it hasn’t included sex offender background checks — a practice that came under fire following an incident involving a Level III sex offender that was discovered at the Ballard shelter.

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  1. My daughter attends the pre-school that is operated at Gift of Grace Lutheran. The parents of the pre-schoolers did not receive any notice of this meeting tomorrow.

  2. And probably like all the other Lutheran churches associated with SHARE they will not tell you this will become a permanent shelter and not just for a year.

    SHARE is just concerned about using self righteous religious people as a front to keep bringing in government money to move forward in their own security as an organization and thus bringing in their own salaries.

    The same happened in Wedgwood and now is pouring into Wallingford.

  3. As the economy worsens there will be more people becoming homeless. SHARE has a successful and cost effective model for providing safety and shelter to people who cannot afford housing.

    Unfortunately, the controversy over the Ballard shelter has caused some to condemn the entire system. That's a shame. We will need more shelter in the future. Let's work to improve and expand the shelter system and stop tearing down what exists and works now.

  4. ballard res here – just check how things went at the Ballard Anex….can you say “no sex offender screening”?

    a nearby citizen learned that there was indeed a sex offender living there; after repeatedly stating that they (share) would magicly detect sex offenders. the entire episode was crammed down the neighors' throats by the church. great neighbor…

  5. Good Luck, we removed these people from our Church years ago, the answer to homelessness is more than housing, background checks and drug screening would show you who you are housing.

  6. Peter, I go to the green lake church mentioned above. They show up at 10pm and leave at 7. People don't even see the share users. Anon, stop being so paranoid about a good cause.

  7. Doug, You forgot to include that there is a daycare, paying rent, also at this site. Also, the church did an extremely poor canvassing job with respect to info about the meeting – and it was last minute, as well. AND parents of the daycare were generally not included! Only 1 home (1 home!) received a flier in a block that is less than 2 blocks from the church. If this is an example of how well they will run this shelter, we are all in for a lot of headaches. Please ensure to talk to the daycare owners and others.

  8. Guest who goes to the Green Lake church mentioned above – don't stereotype homeless people, either as evil people to be feared, or as harmless, misunderstood people. They are individuals, and it's great that the shelter has worked out well for your neighborhood. Ballard wasn't so lucky. And the experience in Ballard shows that SHARE doesn't adequately screen residents, especially when a preschool is involved, as is the case in Wallingford.

  9. It is too bad that the preschool owners did not inform the parent because they have known about the potential shelter since May and “Homeless” population is included in the LEASE!

  10. Pretty sure I didn't do any stereotyping Dave. It's just to bad people only care to speak up when a group offers a solution. There are many homeless living on the streets or cars in ballard, god forbid a church let's 20 of them sleep inside.

  11. Why would they inform parents about a “potential” shelter? There's a potential for a disco up there too I suppose. It's only now that they sprung it upon them that it's a done deal without any interim status updates.

    How is it you are familiar with their lease? My understanding is it says “occasional” homeless person could not be prevented. It doesn't say permanent housing for 15 with no background check. And again the issue is the lack of screening. The church had the option to enforce screening and chose not to because they apparently followed a SHARE pamphlet on how to handle this whole thing.

  12. We had problems when SHARE brought their Nicklesville encampment to the U-District church parking lot used by our preschool. The issue was not generally with the residents (though they were not the easiest to get along with). The issue was mostlywith the people who wanted into the camp, but were turned away, usually for behavioral reasons. Those people continued to cause trouble in and around the camp, sometimes for days. And since we are talking U-District, this means the problems were even more glaring than usual.

    The worst incident was when a turned-away homeless woman physically took out her frustration and anger on one of our preschool moms, who was in the shared parking lot picking up her kids. The mom was obviously quite scared and beside herself, but the folks running the camp just watched the incident go down and did nothing to intervene, or to move the homeless woman out of there. The mom called the cops, and was lucky that it didn't escalate further, but we were worried for *months* about retaliation, or a repeat attack.

    I also think our host church did a huge disservice to our preschool as well. We also received zero notice about the encampment, only finding out about it when we arrived, kids in tow, on a school morning to find our paid parking spaces taken over by tents. We did eventually regain the space, but had constant tussles with the camp about using them for dishwashing and cooking, or putting tents up too close to them so cars couldn't get in and out safely, etc. We never saw church people in that parking lot helping out, nor did they offer to meet with the preschool parents even once — they simply sent a written notice to the director. There was a public meeting, but it was an after-the-fact presentation, with no real discussion.

    The entire experience not only turned me away from SHARE permanently, it has also caused me to seriously question how seriously these churches are taking their responsibilities. Our host church serves the needs of its non-profit preschool, which is also a vulnerable population, as well as others in the community. We were given the short shrift by the pastor and by the church congregation. I was deeply disturbed by how little they cared about the very real problems that their unilateral decision caused for us. And we were, prior to this, a very accepting group, and very understanding of homeless issues. What we had to deal with, though, was quite an eye opening experience. And not in a homeless-positive way, either.

    The preschool in that building has every right to be concerned about the problems that a poorly managed shelter can possibly bring. And from past experience, SHARE and its host churches have not always been good managers. I wish all of you better luck than we had.

  13. My daughter did attend and I have been getting information from the preschool. You may want to check with them to make sure you are getting updates.

  14. The church is already hosting a preschool. Inviting homeless to sleep inside in this case presents risks, especially given how poorly SHARE manages its shelters, and given how the preschool had zero input into the process.

  15. The court of public opinion doesn't matter and your comment is worthless and probably based on heresy. I hope the school is well armed with legal representation and I am willing to contribute to that cause. The church is doing a lot of damage in the neighborhood. Obviously, the church and SHARE have no sense of PR. Good thing they both exist on hand-outs from others. As a business, they'd be finished.

  16. Don't fool yourself into thinking that the SHARE shelter will be there for just one year. That's what they told us in Meadowbrook over ten years ago, and once the SHARE shelter got in to Maple Leaf Lutheran, it hasn't left since. Now they want to bring Tent City in as well:

  17. I liked this thoughtful letter from a church elder at a church in Wedgewood/Meadowbrook. It respectfully considers the neighbors and other services that exist at this church.

    An excerpt:

    Despite the admirable and commendable objective of helping the less fortunate, I have come to the conclusion that we should not proceed with this effort because of the following:
    – It is not in keeping with the democratic principles of a free society;
    – It is wrong morally;
    – It is detrimental to the well being and longevity of the church; and
    – It may well adversely impact the Homeless by creating discontent for the Homeless with many people in the neighborhood.

    As you can see, he is a wise and thoughtful man who knows that a church is part of a broader community – not insular and acting w/o regard for its neighbors.

    The whole letter can be found here:

  18. Here's another factor to consider. Although the shelter residents and the preschool/daycare families will probably never cross paths person to person, the shelter WILL bring bedbugs to the church. The bedbugs WILL spread to the floor mats, bean bags, soft toys, and eventually the backpacks used by the children. It's a rule of bedbug life.

    Parishioners will get little black wingless bedbug hitchhikers in their purses and coats while they attend service or volunteer at their church. Items people buy at a church rummage sale will come with free gift with purchase: bed bug eggs.

    Aren't most churches' assets really just the land and building? Does the church council understand what a massive bedbug infestation – and it WILL happen, talk to any exterminator in this town – will do to the church asset? Is that being a good steward?

    This has happened at other churches that hosted both shelters and preschools in Seattle. The preschool was eventually closed for sanitation reasons. The shelter and its bedbugs won. The minister continues to advocate for shelters in other churches citing the low incidence of violence without EVER discussing the bed bug infestation and dismal sanitation that resulted, the massive amount of (failed) chemical spraying of the church spaces, and disruption to many non-homeless persons' lives.

  19. I think all homeless people should have a place to go. As we come into the cold season, it's wonderful that such a great city like Seattle can open their arms for all the needy. All you people who make more than $250,000 a year should open your hearts a little. Go Obama 2012!!

  20. As a Wallingford resident(I live right next to Stone Way, the street that killed 3 people in the last 5 years) who’s only a few short blocks away from a group home teaming with VERY mentally ill people who are free to walk about as they choose(none have yet to kill anyone in the neighborhood). I’m also the father of a 5 year-old girl who went to Wallingford Coop, who also hosted a homeless shelter(No problems there, either).

    I have to express my sincere dismay that so many of you, however well-intentioned, seem to be living under the misapprehension that you’re entitled to some level of uncompromising security that no city(that’s what we live in) can possibly provide you. It’s also a rather dismal thought that my fellow neighbors seem perfectly happy to scape-goat the homeless of Wallingford(there are many among us) by tarring every one of them with the “potential child molester” label and screaming “NOT IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD!”

    My brain cells also get a little strained reading some of these posts that espouse this rather ridiculous notion that SHARE and the church(and apparently anyone who would support it) are somehow being malicious and conniving, as though they’re reveling in the possibility of endangering your children and they’re going to stir up all this controversy to do so.

    However badly you may think this has been handled by any party concerned, we are talking about people who are simply trying to do some good in our – YOUR neighborhood. We shouldn’t have to pass an act of the Wallingford Congress to simply do good by our fellow man.

    Understand that the inherent dangers of living in an urban area don’t disappear because we ran the local homeless shelter out of the neighborhood church. The risk of being run down on 40th by somebody embroiled in a text message is astronomically greater than anything a hungry, sleep-deprived homeless person can bring.

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