by Martin Barrett
At the September 25, 2023, Burien City Council Meeting, former Burien Mayor Sally Nelson spoke during the public comment period. Ms. Nelson spoke to the announcement made previously in the meeting by City Manager Adolfo Bailon regarding talks by the city with The More We Love to help address the homeless problem in Burien. Unfortunately, Ms. Nelson did not know the facts and put forth a series of misinformational statements.
Below, please view Ms. Nelson’s comment. You may pick up her full testimony beginning at the 3:24:11 mark in the Council Meeting recording.
“Ms. Moreland, to my knowledge, has refused all opportunities to meet and provide essential information about her organization, including detailed information about where the homeless have been placed, where and how long, and what record she can point to of success. How long has she been in business? What does she charge? Who carries out the sweep, and how are they qualified? It is one thing for a private business or person to contract with a for-profit organization, no problem; it is quite another for a city to hire an organization with no public track record that I am aware of and the refusal of her to speak before us. I hope you won’t agree to that and will question the city manager carefully about his reasons,” said Ms. Nelson.
First of all, Ms. Moreland and The More We Love have testified before the city council twice. The first was on April 10, 2023. You may listen to her complete comment beginning at 1:24:20. In her testimony, Ms. Moreland said that she has been working with the homeless for 16 years. During the run-up for the removal of tents around city hall, Ms. Moreland showed her “effectiveness by transitioning 14 campers with the help of churches, alliances, health workers, and people who actually care. “I want to help them into experiences that lift them up as humans, not to sanctioned encampments where they can be preyed upon by predators, not so they can be part of your agenda, not so they can be a money monetary thing for you, but so that they can be really “loved-on” people,” said Ms. Moreland. Ms. Moreland, at the time, was a volunteer. When the camp was physically swept, Ms. Moreland was actually working with the tent campers, helping them move their belongings. She showed her expertise. In contrast, the government workers and contracted organizations stood on the hill and watched, showing no expertise or effectiveness.
Council Member Stephanie Mora invited Ms. Moreland to speak at a city council meeting a second time this summer. She did. As Ms. Moreland listed what she had accomplished, the local business community at 4th and 152nd chose to put their own money into helping the tent campers who were disrupting their business and customers(private money, impressed by results, solving a public problem.) If Ms. Nelson needs more proof, it would be good for her to go to 4th and 152nd to look for tents. By July 17, Ms. Moreland had moved 4 of the campers into detox, shelters, and other places. Twelve of the campers refused help. The total report by Council Member Mora may be found at the 2:21:23 mark in this recording.
Please see any of the below links for an accounting of the results:
Ms. Nelson questioned the cost to achieve results. The cost of clearing the encampment was $515 per person. This is open information.
By contrast, at the June 12 Burien City Council meeting, 8 organizations, some government and some contracted, were asked by Mayor Aragon to report on their activities in solving the homeless crisis in Burien. They listed countless process steps in making the homeless comfortable and well-serviced. However, when asked by Council Member Mora for results they can claim in cleaning up the Dog Park encampment at 6th and 152nd, only the Salvation Army could state helping anyone to detox, shelter, or permanent housing. Salvation Army accounted for 7 to 10 who were off the streets due to their work. None of the other seven could. These are government-approved, taxpayer-funded professionals. These are the experts whom Council Member Cydney Moore referred to in the September 25 Council Meeting (who alone can solve the problem.)
I hope that Ms. Nelson can take the opportunity to learn the facts.