Safe Parking Update

Last September a TUUC Ad Hoc Committee began looking for options to enhance building and grounds security. Historic issues of misbehavior and illegal behavior on TUUC property had accelerated during the extended period of COVID closure. Debbie Cafazzo, then Board of Trustee member, and Cat Garretson-Bilnoski, Social Justice Committee member, both mentioned that the Tacoma/Pierce County Safe Parking Pilot Program was looking for faith communities to open their parking lots to those living in vehicles. Following a period of investigation and education, a nearly unanimous vote of support at a Congregation Meeting, and a significant amount of work from a team of dedicated congregants, TUUC opened its parking area as a Safe Parking site. It has not been a smooth ride, but today we have guests who are able to safely and legally park in our lot as they seek more stable housing. 

Useful to know:

  • The TUUC Subcommittee on Housing Insecurity (6 members) meets weekly to work on logistics, issues and site visit scheduling. TUUC Administrator/Facilities Manager Libby Ball meets with the volunteer subcommittee members.
  • Cat Garretson-Bilnoski is the current volunteer Site Host.
  • Breck Lebegue is our able Volunteer Coordinator through mid-October. We are looking for a new Volunteer Coordinator (scheduler) who can cross-train with Breck. Consider volunteering!
  • An additional 3-5 volunteers work with the subcommittee members to provide daily coverage on the site to: inspect and resupply the facilities; pick up trash; listen to our guests when they have requests or report issues; listen to our neighbors when they have requests or report issues. We welcome more volunteers for site visits.
  • TUUC is ready to welcome 3 additional vehicles. 
  • Volunteers are needed for a Fall Grounds Cleanup/Refresh. Date, task list, and tools needed coming soon!
  • The private grant that funds the program will last about two or three more months. The Safe Sites 4 All team, an organization under the umbrella of the Tacoma/Pierce County Coalition to End Homelessness, is working to identify public funding for Safe Parking.
  • Our neighbors have been extremely supportive of our efforts and appreciate what good neighbors our guests are. A recent difficult situation was mediated through the efforts of TUUC, the neighbors, and a letter from Sabbatical Minister Rev. Joe Rettenmaier and Board of Trustees President Sheila Whybrow to Council Member Catherine Ushka. We recently sent a letter to our neighbors thanking them for their support. 

TUUC is making a difference in our neighborhood and our community by providing Safe Parking. Questions? Want to volunteer? Contact us:

Subcommittee members: Cat Garretson-Bilnoski, Breck Lebegue, Stacey Soltoff, Mary Berry, Dave and Cindy Hackett

Site visit volunteers: Pam Jenkins, Sheila Whybrow, Ron Nielsen, Jim Bilnoski

Administrative/Facilities Support: Libby Ball