Below is an open letter to the Burien City Council, from Seth Thomas of Hope Christian Community:
To the Burien City Council, March 31st, 2023
Since there are limited options regarding the homeless crisis in Burien, I wanted to help provide an alternative which could benefit both the homeless themselves as well as the surrounding community. Prior sweeps around Seattle in the last couple months don’t appear to have been very successful in regards to placing people on a track for recovery. To my understanding, the county has not responded to your requests for assistance either. The police and fire departments continue to expend significant time and funding responding to regular calls involving the homeless. I believe it’s time to try something new; but things aren’t going to change with the traditional approach. As I said from the beginning of this effort, personal relationship and the Spirit of God are going to be the driving force in turning this problem around. We can provide both of those. We have a community of people from various churches and non-profits ready and wanting to help. If you would be willing to pitch in with these needs below, I will follow through with opening a portion of my church building as a limited capacity 72 hour drug free supervised withdrawal shelter (while obviously referring out cases that would be too dangerous) as we originally intended.
1.) A police cruiser on my church campus with two officers on duty throughout the duration of the 72 hours
2.) An ambulance on my campus with two active duty paramedics throughout the duration of the 72 hours
3.) A written statement of emergency immunity of liability granted towards my church and all the other churches and non-profits serving alongside us with expressed permission from the necessary authorities to function in the capacity of a 72-hour drug free supervised withdrawal center
I realize that there is risk to the homeless and the people serving them by opening up my church in this capacity; however, there is a greater risk to the homeless and the surrounding community by leaving them to continue pursuing their current lifestyle. I, personally, prefer to take the calculated risks that bring change. This opportunity will allow those who are willing, to get clean with people they know and trust and then enter one of the many beds in our network of long term recovery programs.
I’m happy to speak more about the details but based on the already waning window of manpower and resources in this particular opportunity, I would need the written statement committing to each of these needs signed by 3pm today and the manpower to be ready by 6pm.
Regardless of its unconventional nature, I hope we can try something new. It would be a win-win for both the homeless community and the surrounding community. If not, we will look to continue to serve the community of Burien in other ways. I appreciate the consideration.