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

As Burien residents, workers and friends, we are concerned about the misconceptions of some of our fellow neighbors and some candidates for Burien City Council who stand against supportive housing for our most needy community, those in the 0-30% AMI (Area Median Income) range. This refers to people making 0 to 30% of median income for the region, folks who are severely cost-burdened by housing costs. DESC’s Burien development will help meet this need as addressed in our Housing Action Plan. Everything we have been talking about as a City in all of our vision plans for the future of Burien supports the approval of this project.

Misconception #1: Burien will be ignored
One of the first misconceptions is that these will be individuals experiencing homelessness from all over King County, and our Burien homeless population will be ignored. This is simply not true. From the outset DESC has said that they would do outreach to Burien’s homeless. Before the last City Council vote, they received a letter from King County Executive Dow Constantine who said, “I want to be clear that King County is committed to improving our regional approach to supportive housing in a way that prioritizes local referrals. I will eagerly support this improvement to our current system so that residents of Burien… can ensure their neighbors will be able to stay in the communities they call home.”

In addition, an amendment was made to the DESC proposal approval specifying that 30% of the residents would need to come from Burien.

Misconception #2: “Warehousing” and no support services
There are community members and City Council candidates putting out statements that residents of DESC would be “warehoused” with no support services, job training or rehabilitation. This cannot be further from the truth, as there are Health Services, Substance Use Treatment, Employment Advocacy services and more on-site, and DESC works with organizations such as Burien’s Navigation Team, LEAD and Evergreen Treatment Services (REACH) and others to care for its residents. As our 33rd and 34th Legislative District Senators and Representatives have said in a June 18th letter to Burien’s City Council:

“Many of them (disabled and vulnerable people) are veterans of the US military. They become tenants who also benefit from 24/7 staffing support and an array of services and activities that build community… All services are delivered by a well-trained, professional, unionized workforce, with 18 new employees to be located full-time at the Burien building.”

By definition, the DESC facility is not a shelter – it is permanent supportive housing where folks who we currently see sleeping outside can have a place to live out the rest of their lives, but with services attached.

Misconception #3: Drug use and crime will increase exponentially

All of the fears about drug use, a rise in crime and higher taxes are not based in fact, but from a place of fear and lack of understanding. Research has shown that the Housing First model works! (link to research) There is strong housing retention (tenants do not become homeless again), housing reduces jail time and medical emergency services (and costs to taxpayers), there is decreased alcohol and drug use, less in-patient psychiatric treatment and more. By stopping the cyclical events of homelessness, arrest, hospitalization, etc., we save taxpayers money for services the City of Burien no longer has to pay for and pass on to us in the form of taxes. Those who are concerned  that residents of the DESC facility should not have access to drugs and alcohol must remember that this is America; people will be housed, and these will be homes to these residents who, like you and I, have the right to certain choices in the privacy of their own homes. Should they decide they no longer want to use drugs, there are services already in the building for them to turn to. Can any of us say we have that level of access to services?

Here are some of our personal reasons for supporting DESC and supportive housing in Burien:

“I want housing and services to be available for anyone in Burien who need them.”

“I support DESC because our community needs to have supportive permanent housing!”

“We need to have compassion for those who are struggling and not condemn them. “There but for the grace of god go I” should be foremost in our hearts and our minds.”

“There may be affordable housing in the future, but here the residents will have professional in house services. I believe there is no more successful model than this for the care and success of our most vulnerable population.”

“I believe helping people get housing makes the community as a whole healthier.”

“I fear for folks living unhoused, especially now, in light of heat domes and long, below freezing winter storms (which we continue to see ever more regularly). How can we justify NOT supporting any and every initiative to get people access to the basic human right of housing?
It’s needed.”

“Every human being is entitled to food, shelter and clothing. Shelter being one of our fundamental needs everyone is entitled for one. Besides, the DESC will create a venue to access the needy (people with mental health, addiction, transition etc).”

“I have seen firsthand that having a place to stay, with the simple amenities like a shower and a place to keep one’s personal items, can have a transformative effect on a person’s wellbeing. I believe in supporting our veterans with disabilities, to whom we owe so much. I believe that our community will be safer when more people have access to housing.”

“Because humans need a safe place to live and get the help they need.”

“This is a regional solution to a regional problem, and I am glad we can house those in need!”

“As a fellow human being who is feeling guilty these days about my own comfort in an increasingly challenging world, I’d like to help some of our less fortunate brothers and sisters with the shelter they need so desperately.”

“Supportive housing is the only opportunity many folks will have to transition out of houselessness. I want my community to be healthier and safer for ALL people and this is an important piece of that.”

“Many people complain about those living on the streets. DESC is but one of many answers for housing the unhoused and saving lives. If not now, when do we start accepting solutions to the housing crisis?”

“A viable solution for homeless at no cost to the city. A no brainer! Stick to the facts and not politicized misconceptions!”

“I support DESC and Permanent Supportive Housing because we all have to do our part to mend the system that we broke.”

And finally…

“because it is the right thing to do.”

Aaron Hayden 98166
Adelle Comfort 98166
Andrea Newman 98166
Andrew McNair 98166
Annie Phillips 98166
August Hahn 98166
Charles Schaefer 98148
David Feinberg 98168
Elly – Hien Thu Trinh 98146
Grace Stiller 98146
Irene M Danysh 98166
James Marx 98168
Jennifer Fichamba & Ramon Regalado 98148
Kathy Hazen 98148
Kellie Bassen 98146
Kelly Welker 98166
Kelsey Vanhee 98168
Krystal Marx 98168
Laurel Humphrey 98168
Linda Carol hansen 98168
Margret Alley 98166
Melissa Briggs 98166
Michael O’Neill 98148
Nancy Kick 98166
Natalia Fialkoff 98166
Sarah Moore 98168
Sonja Sivesind 98166
Vicky Hartley 98168
Yohannes Kidane 98148

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).