Burien running out of options with homeless encampment

May 31, 2023, 1:44 PM | Updated: 1:48 pm

Burien law enforcement encampment...

Burien homeless encampment at the intersection of Sixth Avenue Southwest and Southwest 152nd Street (KIRO 7)

(KIRO 7)

A Tuesday night special meeting of the Burien City Council ended with no action being taken against a homeless encampment down the street from City Hall.

The encampment, located at SW 152nd Avenue and 6th Avenue SW, is the site for a new dog park, but with the encampment still in place, no action has been taken to clear it.

Gross: Burien encampment disheartening local officials, business owners

Burien Councilmember Stephanie Mora has heard many complaints from her constituents.

“I have heard numerous complaints from the businesses,” Mora told The Jason Rantz Show on AM 770 KTTH. “Many businesses have also shared footage of people relieving themselves behind or around their business.”

Burien C.A.R.E.S., a local non-profit, has a finalized lease on a lot located at the site of the encampment, but with residents still living at the encampment, the city is running out of options on how to move forward.

On Friday, May 19, David Hackett, the General Counsel to King County Executive, said they were concerned with the city’s plan to move the encampment with no housing alternatives for those living at the camp.

“The City is attempting to circumvent [their duty to rehouse those displaced] by entering a lease with a private party, who will maintain and continue the use of the City Lot as a public dog park while attempting to use criminal trespass to force unhoused persons from the premises,” the letter claims.

Because of this, Hackett said that King County will not provide any law enforcement to help facilitate the removal of the camp until “alternative housing arrangements are made.”

Fliers posted at the camp indicate they have until midnight Wednesday to move out.

The City of Burien disputed the letter from King County Executive’s General Council saying that the letter “misrepresents the facts.”

“Because of the county and region-wide lack of shelter and affordable housing, inadequate funding from the federal, state, and county governments, and the inequitable distribution of responsibility for helping people experiencing homelessness, there is no appropriate shelter space for homeless individuals in Burien or throughout King County,” the City of Burien said in its response.

After no progress was made in the special meeting, it remains to be seen where the people living at the encampment will go if it gets cleared out.

“I feel like crap, it’s wrong. I mean to make people move from one site to another site,” Michael, who lives in the encampment, told KIRO 7 News.

The city has given people camping on the lot notice that they will be removed come Wednesday night, but many said they’d just find another place to camp.

“There isn’t anybody here who can say they have a constant job, there might be some people who do day labor, or own a vehicle or contribute to the community in some way. However it’s minimal. Most people are here wrapped around a substance abuse issue,” Stephen Young, who also lives in the encampment, said to KIRO 7.

KIRO 7 contributed to this report

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Burien running out of options with homeless encampment