Home Community Burien Business Association proposes a solution to Burien homeless crisis

Burien Business Association proposes a solution to Burien homeless crisis

by Martin Barrett

On May 30, Dan Mathews, a commercial real estate developer with extensive work in Burien, sent a letter to the Burien City Council proposing a positive step forward in addressing the growing homeless issue. The proposal is based upon the successful work by Joseph Riverson, Kristine Moreland, and Salvation Army in moving tent campers from their brokenness and onto a path for restoration. This success is in stark contrast to the ineffectiveness demonstrated by government programs which, at a special City Council meeting on June 15, could not recite how many homeless they had helped into recovery. 

At a Thursday, June 22 meeting, Robyn Desimone, Executive Director of Burien Business Association, and Mathews publicly laid out their proposal before a group of business leaders, city council members, staff, police, and nonprofits. The proposal presented the success experienced by the Riverson, Moreland, and Salvation Army group. It then put forward the development of a partnership between Moreland’s organization, The More We Love, and the city using, in part, the $1,000,000 King County offered through the King County Regional Housing Authority.

Read Mathews’ letter here

On June 1, 35 tents were dispersed from the dog park on 152nd and 6th. Moreland cited 42 intake sheets which were used to help organize and determine what is individually needed for each homeless person. Moreland said that in her survey of the camp, 33 folks self-reported they had drug addictions. (Moreland said the number was closer to 100%.) She also said 13 self-reported mental illnesses. In addition, there were 3 or 4 drug dealers in the camp, 2 pregnant women, and one kidnapping victim. Fifty percent of the campers were Reach/LEAD participants. Moreland also said there was extensive trafficking and sexual assault, which are usually unreported. 

Homeless encampments near Grocery Outlet.

The campers did not leave Burien on June 1 but were relocated. With ten tents on 152nd in front of Grocery Outlet and another large gathering on Ambaum and 120th, the drugs, trafficking, and theft continue. The city of Burien still has not been open to the effective solutions demonstrated by the faith and nonprofit community. Seattle City Council voted not to follow the Washington State Legislature in making drug possession a misdemeanor. This means that homelessness, largely fueled by drug addiction and mental illness, will continue to grow in Seattle. And, as former city councilor and current candidate Krystal Marx said while promoting DESC, Burien is Seattle’s safety valve.

Homeless encampments on Ambaum.

This means the Burien homeless problem is likely to grow. Since the city has not taken leadership, Desimone, who also is the owner of Iris and Peony Flower Shop, and Mathews, are largely responsible for the Town Square development to present a
new solution.

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  1. Would the services proposed make it illegal to camp in city limits once’s services are offered. What about folks that turn down offers for alternative housing and insist on living in tents on city sidewalks? Thanks

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