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The Burien Voice: What You Need to Know About a Proposed Homeless Shelter in Burien

A deeper look at Burien Council Member Cydney Moore’s plan for a permanent shelter, or sanctioned tent camp here in Burien.

The following is taken from The Burien Voice Facebook page:

This is what you need to know about a proposed homeless shelter in Burien. It’s a long read, but if you want to understand, you’ll read it.
The upper photo shows Burien councilwoman Cydney Moore right around the time she advised a group of about-to-be-evicted-from-city-hall vagrants that they could stay in Burien if they just moved down the street to another patch of city property.
Had it not been for Moore’s timely assistance, the vagrants would have dispersed. Where would they have gone? Some would have accepted the housing that had been offered earlier, some would have gone to local greenbelts, and some would have left town, maybe going back to wherever they came from before they suddenly and mysteriously appeared with their tents at city hall a few weeks earlier, right AFTER the city served the encampment with a notice to leave.
But Moore didn’t WANT these folks to leave. Why? Because she and her activist friends are gunning to put a permanent homeless shelter somewhere in Burien, and without the vagrants being right there together in downtown, in plain sight, it’s harder for her to make that case.
Having a shelter seems like the humane thing to do. What could be wrong with getting these people indoors and connected with services? Nothing would be wrong with it the plan worked as promised.
But it can’t. Because it’s based on lies.
One of those lies is that the vagrants on 6th Ave SW are all from Burien. Moore insists they are, but she doesn’t know that, of course, and the circumstances under which they appeared at city hall are, after all, highly suspect. Unless Moore can show that these people are “from” here (whatever that means) or that they have some organic connection to the city and she can also show that there is no shelter available for them elsewhere, her claim that Burien needs its own shelter should be rejected.
Another problem with the shelter plan is that it won’t work to reduce the number of homeless people (read: vagrants) we see on the streets around Burien.
Look at the photo the below. That’s a drug vagrant sleeping under a blanket at the 1st Ave off-ramp from Hwy 509. There were a couple of them there today; they’ll spend part of their day begging for money and then spend it on drugs.
If Burien builds a spendy new homeless shelter, can the city force these beggars to leave the off-ramp and stay in the shelter? Nope. It can’t. If Burien police went out there and told them to get in the shelter, they’d laugh. This is WSDOT-controlled land, and Burien can’t enforce the “No loitering” law that supposedly applies there.
But suppose Burien could get these particular vagrants out of traffic and into a shelter. What’s to stop new vagrants from turning up and colonizing that same spot? Nothing.
According to Burien city manager Adolfo Bailon, city police can’t ask any vagrant to move along until Burien has demonstrated that it has found housing for every vagrant in Burien, as per the Martin v. Boise 9th Circuit Court case of a few years ago. Bailon doesn’t know how many vagrants there are in Burien right now, nor does he even know how to determine what makes someone a legit Burien “homeless” person. No one knows that, actually, because the Martin v. Boise court case doesn’t speak to that all-important question.
We don’t blame Bailon for the circuit court’s muddle-headed decision. We do fault Ms. Moore, however. For wrongly telling the people of Burien that a shelter will address homelessness in this city.
With the laws as they are now, this plan can’t possibly work, and Moore should know that. If Burien builds a multi-million-dollar shelter with 20 beds and then by some miracle persuades all the 6th Ave vagrants to get into it, there’s nothing to stop another 20 vagrants from stepping off the bus at the transit center the next day, and setting up camp on the nearest sidewalk, greenspace or tiny patch of city land.
And you know what Moore will say when that happens?
Someone’s going to make a mint off this shelter plan. It might not be Moore herself, but she’s carrying water for whoever it is, whether she knows it or not.
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