Housing, food instability discussed at informal event hosted by Krystal Marx

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By Aaron Wells
The Burien Reporter

Burien City Councilmember Krystal Marx met with members of the community over coffee at Starbucks in Five Corners on Saturday evening, May 5. Marx invites the community to similar informal events each month.

Housing and food instability took center stage throughout the discussion. Two residents who volunteer at Transform Burien addressed the need to better identify and reach out to those in need, in addition to increasing the availability of resources and volunteers.

The gathering of such data is a priority for the City as well.

“Until we know what people are here, what services are needed, we’re just spinning our wheels,” Marx says. “We need to slow down to speed up.”

One resident, who describes herself as the wife of a pastor for more than 40 years, added, “If we can get 25 people on a field trip by bus, you should be able to get people to serve a meal.”

Another added, “If we can’t get people housing, why can’t we get honey buckets, dumpsters, and fresh water?”

This led to the idea of using local artists to make such fixtures more aesthetically appealing, similar to other murals in the downtown area.

For her part, Marx noted that while the City of Burien does not operate a food bank, they donate each year to Transform Burien, a local organization providing meals three times each week, as well weekly food and clothing assistance. Marx, a working mother of four children and wife of a combat veteran, recently shared her own food bank experience.

Read more on that story here.

Burien City Councilmember Krystal Marx

The group also discussed challenges associated with transportation to resources in surrounding communities, noting that many food banks in these areas are often inaccessable for those in need. To make matters worse, says one community member, most food banks require documentation of one’s address, typically a piece of mail not dated beyond thirty days. This, he says, can prove especially challenging for those suffering from housing instability.

Marx did note that the City of Burien recently formed its own Human Services Commission, an endeavor spearheaded by fellow Councilmember Nancy Tosta.

In addition to supporting the Commission’s role advising Council members on human services issues and policy, Human Services Manager Colleen Brandt-Schluter, who took on the position in late January, coordinates annual grant funding to local service agencies.

Brandt-Schluter previously filled a similar role for City of Seatac, in addition to sitting on a number of regional boards. Through these relationships she works with surrounding communities to better identify needs and implement solutions to serve a population which frequently transcends local borders.

Marx also focuses on building partnerships with surrounding communities, noting that, while the City of Burien has had a long-standing seat on the Regional Law Safety & Justice Committee, no local representatives have filled the seat until now. The Committee holds monthly caucus calls, in addition to more formal quarterly meetings, to share challenges and discuss viable solutions. The City of Shoreline, Marx notes, has a population similar to that of Burien and has been able to share some of their more successful solutions.

“If they’re here in our city, then they’re ours,” says Marx, addressing the need to provide services to transient community members.

Additional challenges facing this vulnerable population, says one community member, include the ability to vote. The requirement that one have a residential address in order to register to vote prohibits many from voting.

“There should be a way for homeless people to vote,” she says. “It’s a basic right, just like shelter, food, and medicine.”

Councilmember Marx invites members of the Burien community to join her for the following upcoming informal meetings:

  • Saturday, June 9, 2 p.m., Puget Sound Park
  • Tuesday, July 10, 12 p.m., Seahurst Beach
  • Saturday, August 4, 9 a.m., Grand Central Bakery

Those unable to attend are welcome to call or text her at (206) 552-1551. She may also be reached by email at [email protected].

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