[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:]

I am compelled to respond to a post made recently on the Burien Shelter Weather Shelter Facebook page and in The B-Town Blog; the post stated

“Our hearts were heavy after an unhoused neighbor was badly burned trying to keep warm with a fire inside his tent prior to opening, and the shelter exceeded capacity every night as the snow, ice, and cold continued far longer than expected.”  

I live in the Burien Town Square Condos directly across from the library/city hall building. I have a bird’s eye view of the tent encampment and can visually see everything that is happening in the park and in/around the tents. I am compassionate to homelessness, drug addiction and mental illness. I also believe that everyone has a right to be in a safe and livable city.  

I want to thank the Burien Severe Weather Shelter for being open and I personally wish we had a permanent shelter.

Let us be honest about what is happening. The “unhoused neighbor” was not seeking warmth. They were seeking a high.

The people in the tents lining the library and city hall are doing drugs all night long and keeping up neighbors. They are not being “good neighbors” to others who live here.

This park, city hall and the library are supposed to be open to the public; to families, and people walking their dogs and those of us (about 800-1,000) here should have a safe place to work, sleep, play and live. I don’t feel safe going to the park, into city hall and even into my own condo building.  

Let us talk honestly about the solutions to the problems and not whitewash the issues as just people being out in the cold. This is a much deeper problem, and it is harming the community and all the people that live and work here.

Background and History

I’d like to share some experiences related to what is happening in and around the park:

  1. On December 30 I was attacked by a mentally ill homeless person while trying to enter my condo building.
  2. A week before the “unhoused neighbor” was badly burned, we had called about a fire in that same tent.
  3. On the day of the incident, which was a Thursday morning around 8 a.m. as the Farmer’s Market was preparing to open, people in the tent had been doing drugs in the tent. This incident happened 9 ½ hours BEFORE the cold weather shelter opened.
  4. That same night we called 911 again about another fire started in one of the tents.
  5. This weekend we were awakened many times in the night by the drug dealing and drug doing in the park. Groups of drug addicts gathered and partied throughout the night.
  6. There is a green tent on the south side of the building (SW 152nd Street) who is constantly dealing drugs from the tent. Last Monday when I went to the City Council meeting, I witnessed the drug dealing and I watch it from my condo balcony occurring at all times of the day and night. Last night the line was sometimes 5 people deep.
  7. Within the last month, the tent occupants were witnessed/filmed attempting to break into several shops along SW 152nd Street.

This is to say, that while we want to believe that the tent campers are just trying to stay warm, it is important to know the truth, so proper help and policy can be made to change the situation. These tent campers have all been offered and know about the Severe Weather Shelter. They have refused the offer to go to the shelter. 

Let us all work together to address the true issues of drug addiction and mental illness in the homeless population.

– Linda Akey

EDITOR’S NOTEDo you have something you’d like to share with our highly engaged local Readers? If so, please email your Letter to the Editor to scott@southkingmedia.com 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).

Since 2007, The B-Town Blog is Burien’s multiple award-winning hyperlocal news/events website dedicated to independent journalism.

5 replies on “LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Reader responds to Burien Severe Weather Shelter post”

  1. I also live across the street in the same condominium complex as Linda. This situation she speaks of is escalating. The police need to have an officer present after dark in the plaza of this park. We have endured enough of this behavior in the CENTER of our fair city. Not sure who is responsible but I, for one, want to point a finger.

  2. I live across the street from Burien Town Square Park. I moved to Burien because it is a diverse city with a friendly downtown with small shops and a variety of restaurants. I also appreciate the wonderful arts programs and Discover Burien makes our city one of the most active in the area. Since moving here 3 plus years ago I have seen a deterioration of the criminal activity in the downtown area and the park. The homeless encampment with the behavior issues, including drug dealing and verbal and actual assaults has reached a level beyond tolerance. The encampment on the library city hall perimeter must go. I understand the many issues of homelessness and its various causes. The programs to deal with this need to be fully funded and staffed to provide alternatives. The Burein Police Department does an excellent job in our community in spite of being understaffed and underfunded., but cannot do it all. The city government needs to act. No Burien resident should have to walk around drug dealers blocking the entrance to the library and city hall, or be afraid to walk through the park.

  3. They need to force them into treatment instead of offering it! They also need mental health care available! Since they shut down the asylums they just expect people with no comprehension to be able to take care of themselves! Many are just not capable of taking care of their day to day needs, including taking the medication they need to remain functional! I do feel bad for the homeless, but if they won’t help themselves, the courts should be forcing them into rehab or mental health facilities. Instead all we get is “THEY have rights” but THEY are stepping all over the rights of the majority of the people, yet the courts don’t seem to care! Also the mental health system is a joke… not near enough of them to handle the amount of mentally ill that we have! That man that threw the nurse down the stairs and Washington paying that criminal hundreds a day because they can’t find a mental facility for him is a prime example of what is wrong with our entire state and country… not just Burien!

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