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City of Burien Administration denies rejecting $1 million from King County to build temporary housing facility

by Hannah Sutherland

The City of Burien Administration denied rejecting King County’s $1 million offer to help address Burien’s growing homeless problem.

The city’s administration posted a news release on August 1 addressing false information spreading in the community concerning the rejection of funds offered by King County.

“The Burien City Council did not reject the offer presented by King County,” the administration said on the city’s website. “The offer is not contingent upon a vote of acceptance by the Burien City Council and remains available through the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA).”

King County offered on June 7, 2023, to allocate $1 million to the KCRHA, which would provide support to residents of Burien experiencing homelessness. This offer was contingent upon the city of Burien finding a sanctioned encampment site.
“KCRHA has already been in discussions with Burien officials about the needs and opportunities,” Deputy King County Executive April Putney said in the June 7 letter from King County. “We are confident your two entities can work out details regarding service provisions and other issues.”

At a July 24 City Council Meeting, Burien Deputy Mayor Kevin Schilling announced that he and City Manager Adolfo Bailon agreed to partner with Seattle-based company REBLX Partners. REBLX is a commercial real estate developer that converts old hotels and buildings into luxury studio apartment communities.

In an email exchange copied to KCHRA, Bailon reached out to REBLX’s facility in Renton, inquiring about the over 100 units purportedly available. Anne Burkland, KCHRA’s Chief of Staff, replied to Bailon, saying that the $1 million could not be spent for a facility outside of Burien unless they received support from the hosting city. REBLX would also require a service provider, according to Burkland’s email.

Burien City Council member Cydney Moore became involved in the discussion and received an email from Abby Anderson, KCHRA’s Sub-Regional Planning Specialist. Bailon responded, inquiring why Moore was included in the discussion.
Moore then emailed all other city council members with information on KCHRA’s requirements for selecting a temporary housing site. This violates the Open Public Meeting Act, which does not allow more than three council members to engage in private, non-public communications at any time.

In a July 27 Democratic Party leadership meeting from the 33rd and 34th districts, Moore announced that the option with REBLX was not moving forward.

The City Administration said they have considered several potential sites, mentioning the REBLX facility in Renton.

“All sites remain under consideration until an exhaustive review has been completed by City personnel and shared with the City Council,” according to the news release.

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