Homeless camp restrictions could affect Sammamish parish

Mary, Queen of Peace Parish will respond to new regulations if asked to host another tent city  

Tent City 4
Tent City 4 at Mary, Queen of Peace Parish in Sammamish in October 2013. Photo: Courtesy Mary, Queen of Peace Parish

By John Wolcott

Tent City 4 found a temporary home at Mary, Queen of Peace Parish last winter, but newly adopted city regulations restrict how often churches in Sammamish can host the homeless.

Father Kevin Duggan, pastor of Mary, Queen of Peace, was among those who spoke against the restrictions, which limit homeless camps in the city to four months each year and allow each church to host the homeless only once every 18 months.

In an email, Father Duggan noted that some restrictions in the city’s ordinance appear to go well beyond what state and federal laws allow. “It will be interesting to see if the ordinance is challenged in court by those who sponsor these homeless encampments, or by any of the churches and faith communities who host them,” he said.

Mary, Queen of Peace hosted Tent City 4 and its 60 to 95 residents from October 2013 through January on the southwest corner of the parish grounds. Father Duggan said a majority of his parishioners supported hosting the encampment and many provided meals, clothing, blankets and other necessities for the homeless residents.

“My parish will respond [to the restrictions] when and if we are asked to host a homeless encampment again at some point in the future,” Father Duggan said in the email. “We would want to build on the positive experience that we’ve already had, both in our work with the homeless and in our collaboration and interaction with city government and staff.”

However, he said, “We would also want to stand up for our rights to carry out our religious missions in a manner than ensures proper health and safety, but … unobstructed by excessive and unjust restrictions.”

Read the new Sammamish homeless encampment ordinance.

July 11, 2014