Kennedy Catholic High School (KCHS) released a statement on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023 sharing that it is “tremendously disappointed” that the City of Burien has not actively consulted with the school community regarding plans for a Pallet Village on Seattle City Light property near the school.
The new sanctioned homeless encampment – which was approved by a 4-3 vote at a Special Meeting of the Burien City Council on Monday night, Nov. 27, 2023 – will be located at S. 136th Street & 4th Ave S. (map below) near the school’s campus. The approved motion was part of the acceptance of an offer of $1 million and 35 Pallet Homes from King County.
“We have reached out multiple times to the City Council to communicate our concerns and our willingness to find a suitable solution,” said KCHS President/Principal Matthew Mohs. “We are tremendously disappointed to have received no response.”
Mohs said that the school community, as well as its neighbors, should have been involved in the decision-making process before the Pallet Village proposal was finalized.
“We expected better from our elected officials,” Mohs added.
KCHS said it is committed to working with the City Council and other stakeholders to address the needs of both the school community and the unhoused population. The school has offered to host a public forum with members of the various governmental organizations and the selected operator of the village to inform and engage the community.
“We are facing a complex, multifaceted problem and we will avoid the temptation to succumb to fear-mongering and division,” Mohs said. “Any approach KCHS pursues will respect the safety and dignity of all parties involved, especially those most vulnerable.”
Kennedy’s Full Statement
Below is full text of the statement from KCHS:
“While it has been extremely disappointing that our Kennedy Catholic High School Community has not been actively consulted despite the numerous outreach efforts, it is also important for us to work proactively and diligently towards the best possible outcomes surrounding this project. As a Catholic school, living our faith is central to our identity and obligates us to engage on public matters differently than other organizations. We recognize the significant challenges the city faces in meeting the needs of those experiencing homelessness, but we have a fundamental responsibility to ensure that our concerns are addressed.
“‘I reached out multiple times to the Burien City Council to communicate the specific concerns of the Kennedy Catholic Community and our willingness to find a suitable solution,’” says President/Principal Matthew Mohs. “I am tremendously disappointed to have received no response. Regardless of the use of the Seattle City Light property, our community, as well as our neighbors, should have been involved before the choice was finalized. That is one of the primary responsibilities of the City Council and I expected better from them. Assuming this pallet community moves forward, we will work diligently to ensure the project addresses the needs of the Lancer Community as well as that of the unhoused.'”
“It is too soon to determine how this will impact the Kennedy Catholic Community particular since the City of Burien has not provided adequate details or plans about what will likely open next to our school. As the discussions surrounding this development shift towards implementation, Kennedy Catholic will continue to work with elected officials at all levels to address concerns through:
- “Ongoing engagement with the City of Burien staff as they implement the resolution passed by the City Council.
- “Continued advocacy with members of the City Council, King County, the City of Seattle, and the King County Regional Homelessness Authority to ensure concerns from all members of our community are considered as they move forward.
- “Hosting a public forum with members of the various governmental organizations and the selected operator of the village to inform and engage our community and our neighbors. Our facilities have already been offered to reduce attendance barriers. We are waiting for officials to accept the invitation.
- “Consultation with the Pastoral Outreach ministry at the Archdiocese of Seattle to understand how our community could have a positive impact in our city.
“As Catholics, we are called to lead with love and act in justice. We will remember we are facing a complex, multifaceted problem and avoid the temptation to succumb to fear-mongering and division. Any approach Kennedy Catholic pursues will respect the safety and dignity of all parties involved, especially those most vulnerable.”
About Kennedy Catholic High School
Kennedy Catholic High School is a private Catholic school located in Burien. The school has been serving the community for over 60 years and is committed to providing a rigorous academic education in a faith-based environment.