[EDITOR’S NOTEThe following is a Letter to the Editor, submitted by a verified resident. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of South King Media, nor its staff:]

To the residents of Burien,

The situation on 6th Ave SW and SW 152nd Street is unsafe for residents, the unhoused, and businesses.

Three things must occur to get those in the encampment to stable housing or treatment:

  1. First, we must work collectively.
  2. Second, more focus and coordination on mental health and substance use.
  3. Third, coordination between Burien and King County as an umbrella organization to address homelessness in the region. 

It is time to shift our focus from individualistic problem-solving to a more collaborative approach. Knee-jerk reactions and lack of coordination only serve to divide and distract us from the task at hand. The unilateral actions of a few individuals have only exacerbated the public safety crisis on SW 152nd and have eroded trust in our government. It is our responsibility as a government to guarantee the safety and well-being of all residents within our community. This includes ensuring that city residents can live and work in an environment where unsafe behaviors are prevented and addressed appropriately.

As a nurse, I see gaps and disconnects in the current system. With few exceptions, unhoused individuals must accept help voluntarily. Substance use and untreated mental health work against the decision-making ability required. Enhancing coordination between REACH, LEAD, and Public Health mobile medical services is critical to stabilizing individuals’ health crises. The goal is to help unhoused individuals find the self-determination needed to voluntarily seek and accept housing. 

Coordination with King County is key. As an umbrella organization committed to addressing homelessness, the County’s resources can and must be allocated appropriately and equitably among cities and unincorporated areas. 

Prior to March 31st, the City was working with partners to find more stable housing yet no beds were available in time. The encampment on 6th and 152nd was not a council action. The City continued to coordinate with King County and service providers on next steps. This includes the City examining its own financial resources to support a transition for the encampment. There is progress being made and next steps will be announced soon. 

The City of Burien cannot handle homelessness alone and we must continue to do our part in addressing this regional crisis, with collaboration from all levels of government. Neglecting these concerns hinders progress. Let’s work together to find a solution that benefits everyone involved because families are relying on us to keep our community working towards a better future.

– Mayor Sofia Aragon

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2 replies on “LETTER: Burien Mayor Sofia Aragon: ‘Three things must occur to get those in the encampment to stable housing or treatment’”

  1. I’m homeless and it’s not right I have been trying to get on my feet but no one wants to higher a person with a criminal record like mine and that really makes everything so much harder for me

  2. Mayor Aragon,
    Thank you for finally waking up and putting the homeless on the Council agenda. Now please stop persecuting those who showed compassion for the homeless, by bravely stepping up to fill the power vacuum created by your failure to lead.
    Burien has real problems, Council time is precious, we need to solve the city’s problems. Civility agreements and sanctions against volunteers do not solve Burien’s very real problems.
    What you outline in your Letter to the Editor does, please spend your time accomplishing those goals not fighting with those you disagree with or are embarrassed by.

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