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Joseph’s Journey: Will the City Address the Homeless Crisis?

by Joseph Riverson

Burien has experienced quite an eventful past few weeks. One major highlight was the Fourth of July Parade, which was an incredible success! Huge congratulations to the organizers, the participating floats, and the greater Burien Community! 

With all that’s been going on in recent months, it was an amazing, refreshing sight to behold. Seeing the entire community gather together, the love, sense of community and belonging, the family-friendly atmosphere, children, parents, and grandparents alike waving flags, expressing good cheer with laughter and exuberant joy across the varied generations, cultures, and races. It was a true reflection of who and what Burien is and represents, and I feel incredibly blessed to have been a part of it, walking with a sign along one of the Floats put up by Hope Christian Church that read “We Love Burien.” 

From being on the frontlines of the homeless crises that have gripped the city over the last several months, engaging personally with many of our homeless neighbors and visitors, attending and speaking at multiple City Council Meetings, a Burien Business Association Meeting, connecting and speaking with business owners, community members, and concerned citizens, what I observed during the fourth of July Parade as I walked through the streets looking at the joy everyone was expressing, was this sense of quiet determination with a banner of “We are ready.” That as Burienites, “We are ready to tackle whatever comes our way, and we’re going to stand united. We’re not going to back down, and we’re ready to resolve conflict, find solutions that represent Burien, solutions that will build our city back up and make it a true Gem of The Sound.” This determined resolve as a community was evident in the unity displayed.

For the keen observer, it would seem as if the City Council took a break from one of the most important periods in its and the city’s history; however, it was a much-needed break and one, I believe, they took with much counsel and wisdom. A break where I trust everyone involved took time to reflect, seek guidance, ponder on issues on the table, connect and reconnect with the community, and to come up with solutions that meet or attempt to meet the needs at hand.

The Council is set to reconvene on Monday, the seventeenth of July 2023, at 7 pm, and has an extensive agenda on the table (City of Burien – Meeting Information (civicweb.net)). 

With multiple items on the table, as well as a constant drip of outreach to the Council from supporters and opposers, and presentations of proposed solutions from the private sector, the Council indeed has much to discuss and consider. 

Many community members are eager to hear what will be presented at the Council meeting and plan to attend and voice their concerns, frustrations, support, and disagreement with items on the agenda. 

Given this background, when I asked what the expectations for this upcoming council meeting were, Robyn DeSimone, Executive Director of the Burien Business Association, expressed hope and cautious optimism. “I expect there to be some kind of result. Good or bad,” said Robyn. 

This is terrific. However, given the perspective of a seeming stall of progress in finding a solution in these meetings, “the public has become upset to the point that something has to be done. I think we’ve played around with this enough. There have been too many times when nothing has come out of these meetings. There’s been enough games; let’s do this and do something productive with our meetings instead of having these catfights,” Robyn reminiscently added.

With different groups trying to find options and voicing/sending their ideas to the Council, The Burien Business Community has also been busy trying to find solutions to help the homeless crises, and when asked about this, Ms. Desimone revealed that “The Business Community is currently working together, coming up with a solution, without the help of the Council; we’d prefer their help, and we’d prefer a solution so that we can all move on.”

Overall, this next council meeting and season for Burien is shaping up to be a solutions-based and productively informative one; given the unity and togetherness seen on the Fourth of July Parade, should that carry over into the meeting and season, hopefully, it will be one of cordiality, understanding, peace, reconciliation, and mature handling of differences with Godly Divine Wisdom as the foundation. 

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