Burien to hold council meeting on mental health, encampment

Jun 12, 2023, 9:10 AM | Updated: 9:40 am

Burien homeless...

The homeless encampment outside city hall last week is being moved around Burien to another home at Dottie Harper Park. (Photo from KIRO 7)

(Photo from KIRO 7)

Update 6/12 9:04 a.m.: 

The Burien City Council is holding a regular meeting Monday, June 12, weeks after an encampment was shuffled around the city and ended up at a city park.

The agenda for tonight’s meeting shows an outreach coordinated care model presentation but doesn’t specifically mention a discussion on encampments moving around Burien.

A public comment section is also included at the meeting.

The meeting is set for 7 p.m.

Original 6/5:

The homeless encampment outside Burien City Hall last week is being moved around the city and has found yet another home at Dottie Harper Park. This has left Burien citizens, councilmembers, and the wider western Washington community frustrated at the lack of sustainable solutions.

This is despite the Burien Municipal Code, which prohibits encampments on park property.

Burien encampment cleared as new park lease starts

Neighbors said they want to see a more permanent housing solution from the city, and Burien resident Quela Bruch said moving them off the properties doesn’t help.

“We need to treat them with dignity, shuffling them around like they are pests as if they aren’t worthy of living anywhere, I think is not the right way to go,” Bruch said.

There’s been an ongoing dispute among city leaders, neighbors, and the county about how and where to find these people housing.

Anne Martens, the representative for the King County Regional Homeless Authority, said shelters in the area are at capacity, but they continue to work with the city.

“South King County has very few shelter options — to create more places for people to shelter or live would require additional investment in infrastructure in that part of King County,” Martens said. “Burien has two emergency shelters, one for families and one for women only, and I believe they are at capacity. Des Moines has an emergency shelter that serves men and women, but it is by referral only and not drop-in and is at capacity. SeaTac, White Center, and Tukwila have zero emergency shelters.”

According to the Martin v. Boise court decision, if someone doesn’t have any place to go, they must be offered housing before they can be moved off of public land.

The Burien City Council’s next meeting is at 7 p.m. Monday. On the agenda is the Approval of Resolution No. 499, Approving South King County Housing and Homelessness Partners (SKHHP) 2024 Workplan and Budget.

Follow Sam Campbell on Twitter or email him here

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Burien to hold council meeting on mental health, encampment