Burien shelter funding deadline nears as city council meeting gets heated

Nov 7, 2023, 3:07 PM | Updated: 3:11 pm

burien camping ban dehumanize homeless burien shelter funding deadline...

A homeless encampment in Burien (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

Time is ticking on King County’s offer of a million dollars and several pallet shelters with the goal of helping the City of Burien with its homelessness crisis.

King County sent an email to city officials in Burien Oct. 27, giving the city 30 days notice to formalize a plan to set up a homeless encampment after Burien recently banned overnight camping on public property.

More from Burien: Overnight camping ban to go into effect

The county said it will withdraw the funding if Burien does not find a suitable location because the money if from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which they say will expire. The county originally offered the money to the city in June.

City Manager Adolfo Bailon was one of the recipients of the email, but said that he did not see the email for a week after receiving it. The problem is that emails provided to KIRO Newsradio show Bailon’s claim is not true, and he responded to the county’s correspondence on the same day.

Bailon emailed the city council a week after receiving the county’s email, sharing the news. At the bottom of the email, Bailon claims he had not seen the email, which is why he did not communicate to the rest of the council because he had a backlog of 150 emails about an independent non-profit plan to provide shelter at a nearby church.

That nonprofit is run by Burien City Council member Cydney Moore, who had pushed against Burien’s camping ban for months, saying the shelters just don’t have the space.

Moore is acting in a personal capacity as the president of a nonprofit that is setting up a temporary solution for unhoused people called Sunnydale Village on the nearby church Oasis Home’s property with space for 30 tents.

“I would like to know why you told the council that you didn’t read an email and you lost an email that you sent a direct response to,” Moore said at Monday’s council meeting.

It led to a heated exchange at the city council meeting, with Mayor Sofia Aragon dismissing it as drama.

“This whole thing about lost emails is great for drama but that’s not really going to inform us about the decision we have to make,” Aragon said at the meeting.

Crime blotter: Burien Police, led by K9 Quinn, seize county’s largest-ever fentanyl powder bust

At one point, Aragon called for the council chambers to be cleared as things intensified.

Bailon said he did not intend to mislead the council. It’s unclear if he informed other council members ahead of his email, claiming he did not see the deadline correspondence.

“I can assure you that if I attempted to mislead the council, it wouldn’t have been by sending an email message,” Bailon said.

Contributing: Lisa Brooks, KIRO Newsradio

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Burien shelter funding deadline nears as city council meeting gets heated