[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a verified resident. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of The B-Town Blog, nor its staff:]

An Open Letter To My Community

I want to make it clear that I support DESC. This Monday, I decided to table the vote until June to provide a window for us, as councilmembers, but more importantly members of this community to exhaust conversation with Burien residents, DESC staff, and the building contractors and planners who will be responsible for the construction and managing of the facility.

This is because simply providing housing is not enough. When we talk about housing justice that goes beyond infrastructure. It goes beyond buildings. Housing justice is about quality of living while housed. I want to ensure that the 95 individuals who will be able to receive housing, shelter and resources from DESC are met with more than just a roof over their heads. In patience, I am hoping to provide a period of time for us as a council to be the facilitators for greater understanding, acceptance, and a general culture shift around how many present residents have continued to respond to the possibility of this project.

To accomplish this, we have to go beyond public comments and provide space for a public forum which will take place between now and our next vote. I want to reiterate once again, that I support DESC and my primary concern is quality of living once housed.

I will also, briefly, take this opportunity to address the discourse around myself and my peers, who have been, albeit expectedly, subject to harsh scrutiny regarding this decision. I understand the frustration. I myself am frustrated with this process and the length for which it takes bureaucratic systems to simply provide humane housing to community members. Nevertheless, I am standing my ground, not against anyone, but in line with what I believe. And it is in moments like this, where my beliefs may deviate ever so slightly from other members of council that I am quickly cast off. Separated. Because as a person of color, I am only ever useful or agreeable within white power structures and amongst white people when I nod my head. Say yes. And don’t stop to question or take a moment of grace to go back to community for guidance.

I believe as a council we have much work to do internally and externally to be able to better and best represent Burien. With that being said, I look forward to hearing from community during the upcoming public forum and working intentionally with my fellow councilmembers to make this happen.

– Mayor Jimmy Matta

EDITOR’S NOTE: Do you have an opinion you’d like to share with our highly engaged local Readers? If so, please email your Letter to the Editor to [email protected] and, pending review and verification that you’re a real human being, we may publish it. Letter writers must use their full names and cite sources – as well as provide an address and phone number (NOT for publication but for verification purposes).