Search PNC News for stories of people and churches in our UCC Conference:

St. Paul’s UCC will host men’s shelter in Ballard area of Seattle

As of Jan. 20, St. Paul’s UCC in Ballard hosts an overnight shelter Seattle’s SHARE / WHEEL partner organizations housed at Trinity United Methodist Church until it sold its building.

Tim Devine reports on new use for church.

SHARE / WHEEL refers to the partnership of the co-ed Seattle Housing and Resource Effort, and the Women’s Housing, Equality and Enhancement League.  SHARE was founded in 1990, and WHEEL in 1993.

They partner self-help organizations of homeless and formerly homeless men and women to self-manage King County’s network of 15 indoor shelters and three tent cities, working to eradicate homelessness, educate the community and empower homeless people.

Tim Devine, pastor at St. Paul’s, learned about it when Arlene Hobson, PNC executive administrator, sent an email about the shelter for 20 men closing and the need for a new church location.

“We are just eight blocks away and on the same bus line,” said Tim.

The people are pre-screened and are the same people every night.  It’s an overnight shelter, but people can store things there, too.

During the day, some go to work, and some go to do volunteer projects.

“Those who work have minimum wage jobs and cannot find anywhere they can afford to live,” he said.

Representatives of the shelter met with the church council and held a neighborhood meeting.

The shelter is in the social hall on the lower floor where there is a kitchen and storage.  There is access to a microwave for coffee. Guests sleep on mats.

“After the fire in March 2016, the church added security and building upgrades so there is no access to the upper floor from the lower floor,” said Tim.  “That made it easier for hosting the 12-step groups that meet in the church.”

Previously the groups had keys and could go anywhere in the building.  Sometimes some stayed and slept there and cooked.

Each week, 35 12-step groups meet, so 1,200 to 1,500 people are in the building each week, plus a few other groups.  The $20,000 to $25,000 income from building use is 20 percent of St. Paul’s budget, but basically covers the cost of the custodian help and supplies.

The shelter organizers are to clean up after themselves, clean and restock the bathrooms.  They will pay no rent.  St. Paul’s will absorb utility costs.

Tim said the shelter may become permanent because homelessness has exploded in Ballard in the last five years.

Already St. Paul’s has been working with five other churches to serve a Sunday dinner for 70 at a Lutheran Church in Ballard on first Sundays.

Volunteers help at Urban Rest Stops that provide private showers and laundry facilities in Ballard, as well as downtown and the University District.

“We are aware of people on the streets, living in Nickelsville, in tents under bridges and in parking lots,” Tim said.

“Many people are under employed and if they miss one paycheck, they are in a dire situation. Some are also suffering from mental illness or substance abuse,” he said.

Those staying at the church will be screened, so there will be no sex offenders, no alcohol or drug use.

SHARE / WHEEL programs, which provide up to 450 people with a safe shelter each night, have a community with strict rules.

Four or five times a year, St. Paul’s UCC has let people park overnight in the parking lot.  It has just 16 spots, which need to be available to people coming for the 12-step groups.

For information, call 206-783-6733 or email




Share this article on your favorite social media Bookmark and Share