Tacoma church offers alternative space for homeless who may be displaced due to tent ban

TACOMA, Wash. - One Tacoma pastor says he is ready to start providing shelter to people who may be displaced due to the city’s tent ban.

Earlier this month, the Tacoma City Council voted to ban tents in city parks. The ban takes effect in December.

The city is working with several groups, including Metro Parks, Associated Ministries and the Metropolitan Development Council, to solve the problem. Officials with Associated Ministries say the city is looking toward the faith based to community to help provide alternative spaces.

“I feel a responsibility to care for those who are in need,” said Eric Jackson.

Jackson is the senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Tacoma.

He says on the night of the vote, he spoke to council about using space in his church to shelter people.

“I believe that a space like this ought to have life in it. So, anything we can do to serve the community better we want to be able to do that,” said Jackson.

Jackson says his church can provide space for people experiencing homelessness. He says it’s something they have done in the past.

He says they could comfortably shelter up to 40 "guests." Jackson says they also welcome families, by any definition of the word.

The church’s campus has a place where the guests could shower, store their belongings, and even has a washer and dryer available.

Jackson says guests would stay overnight at the church between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., which would allow church operations to continue normally during the day.

“There’s more than meeting in these four walls and saying a good sermon every Sunday and expecting people to change their lives. What we have got to be doing is what the bible says and not just talking about it,” said Jackson.