They say that each part of Seattle has a character all its own, attracting like-minded people who in turn build on the neighborhood’s unique personality. Camp Second Chance was built from the ground up by its residents.
“The founding members were campers from other tent cities. I knew some of them — that’s partly why I came here,” camp resident Patrick Mosley said.
The homeless encampment, located in White Center, an unincorporated area south of West Seattle, is determinedly democratic, with weekly resident meetings and a commitment to voting. Residents are self-governing, deciding by consensus how to manage their camp and whether to hire staff. Six resident board members enforce the rules, Mosley explained, including a code of conduct, strict sanitary standards and safety guidelines banning intoxicating substances. They have 24-hour security and a fence surrounding the perimeter of the camp.
“It’s a very well-managed clean and sober encampment,” said Polly Trout, founder and executive director of Patacara Community Services, a Seattle-based Buddhist nonprofit that serves as the camp’s fiscal sponsor overseeing the City of Seattle funds. “The camp has worked really hard to be good neighbors.”
Now the camp will entertain its neighbors and anyone else who wants to help support the camp and its efforts to build tiny houses. The residents are putting on a benefit concert at the camp location including performances by musicians who live on site.
The Camp Second Chance benefit will be held on July 2, from noon to 7 p.m. The event is free (no tickets or registration required), but donations will be accepted at the concert or online. The event is potluck: Bring a dish to share and get to know the residents of this unique neighborhood.
Mosley is hosting the concert, but also performing. His band, The Soulful 88s, will headline.
“We’re a rock and blues band with a whole lot of soul!” he said, adding that his daughter will also perform, along with the group Blues on Tap. The concert will include an informal jam session featuring campers and any guests who want to join in.
Mosley hopes the benefit concert will raise enough money to build at least one tiny house — between $2,500 and $3,000. He and his fellow campers plan to assemble a tiny house during the event so visitors can see how easily they come together, and even lend a hand if they wish.
Tiny houses are the next phase for Camp Second Chance, which has grown from a handful of founding members and unsanctioned status in April 2016 to nearly 60 residents by mid-June 2017. It now is formally recognized by the city with $208,000 in public funding to support the camp. A year after moving to its present site on Myers Way South, the camp has become an organized tent city with two cooking facilities, a computer room, a common area with a TV, and a donations tent that serves as a general store.
The camp, located on a formerly unused parcel of land owned by the city of Seattle, has room for 50 dwellings and 70 residents. Right now, these dwellings are tents erected on 8-foot-by-12-foot platforms. But Mosley is determined to transform them into real homes.
Enter the tiny houses.
The tiny houses have insulation and flooring, shingled roofs, windows and doors — in short, they’re real houses. There are currently two tiny houses at Camp Second Chance: one serves as an office; a camp resident occupies the other. The homes were built by volunteers and the residents themselves.
“It’s kind of like an Erector Set,” Mosley explained, gesturing at the resident’s house. “It went together in less than an hour.”
The tiny houses will be owned by Camp Second Change, which has applied for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. The prefab structures are designed to fit onto the raised tent platforms, seamlessly replacing the tents as they are constructed. The seven founding members of Camp Second Chance will get the first seven houses, with subsequent dwellings distributed to residents based on their move-in date. Mosely’s goal is a tiny house for each resident.
Camp Second Chance received permission from the city to construct the tiny houses; now they need the funds. Though the camp has $208,000 in financial backing from the city through the end of 2017, Mosley said the funding can’t pay for the tiny houses.
Mosley and his fellow campers realized that if they wanted the tiny houses, they’d have to raise the money themselves. Mosley, an accomplished bassist, suggested a benefit concert and, in true democratic fashion, the camp voted for it.
Camp Second Chance is located at 9701 Myers Way S. in Seattle. For more information about the camp, visit Patacara.
*Camp Second Chance needs more than just tiny houses. they also need: Food and kitchen gear; clothing; toiletries; office supplies; blankets and sleeping bags; volunteer housing advocates.
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