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


My friend Nature died in front of City Hall on Saturday. He’s the 4th person to die while unsheltered in Burien this year, adding to the seven who died outside last year. At least 380 people died outside in King County last year.

Without shelter, people die.

Burien is a beautiful, vibrant, historically significant, multicultural, multi-class community, that crosses boundaries and builds bridges across divides, between the religious and the non-religious and the anti-religious, between conservative and liberal, old and young. We have been building bridges, and our community is connecting, the entrepreneurs and the capitalists, service providers and police, generous donors and grassroots support. We have been building community one smile at a time. It makes all the difference to recognize the humanity and dignity of the other, no matter that their struggles are different than my own.

My organization formed, organized, and worked without sufficient funding this winter, to keep our community alive. I had the honor to be site manager at Sunnydale Village, South King County’s first sanctioned, supervised encampment. Nature was one of my residents, one of the hundred-plus people experiencing homelessness we provided dry ground and a warm cup of chocolate and a place to huddle out of the rain this winter, one of the 65 people, five dogs, and one cat who were left stranded at the end of the 90 day encampment agreement. I loved Nature. 

This whole time it has been in council’s hands what to do about what some people call the “homeless problem” or the “tent regulation”. The county has been begging to throw money at us to host transitional housing, to fund wraparound services and construction materials to help those needing to move up the housing continuum from temporary shelter to secure transitional housing to permanent supportive housing in Burien, absolutely anywhere, just as soon as the council says yes.

Daniel Martin
Burien resident

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

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  1. only problem with that (your story) is he died of a drug overdose, not exposure.

    Please do tell, if he had housing how would that have changed his addition and death as a result.?

  2. I would really like a response back if you have the time on the below questions! Thank you

    (I’m legitimately asking these questions to Daniel Martin)

    Do you own a home and have you ever owned a Business? How would you feel if someone found out where you live or where you run your business and targeted you or the nearby area and property specifically because they had different outlooks of governing than you? ( Ex: Using drugs, selling drugs, being loud and yelling all the time, going to the bathroom everywhere, leaving trash and drug paraphernalia everywhere, up very late every night, and triggered very easily with aggressive behavior if spoken to..)

    Also every time you try to get help and remove these “people” from your property or right next to it, the police -who you call-, shrugs their shoulders and the problem becomes unresolved and your now helpless. How would you feel? Now what if the people were talking about doing these negative things are homeless, your saying it shouldn’t be regulated? MOST IMPORTANTLY, what if these people doing these negative things AREN’T homeless, wouldn’t you be on the phone asap with the police for help?

    1. Hi John, thanks for your question and engagement.

      Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr taught that we must live learn to live together as siblings or we will perish together as fools.

      I have seen firsthand the progress that a little bit of kindness and empathy can make, to community members that are going through a really hard time.

      We know that police sweeps don’t increase sobriety, health outcomes, or reduce homelessness. Police and jails are the most expensive and least efficient options for deploying to a mental health crisis, an addiction crisis, an affordable housing crisis.

      I don’t claim to be an expert or to have all the answers, but I believe our little community of 55,000 people has all the resources that we need to take care of the couple hundred of our poorest and most vulnerable community members.

      There’s a children’s book I like, Everyone Poops. I believe that basic human needs like water, shelter, and hygiene facilities ought to be regarded as human rights. The council has had options on the table for over a year for investing in public health, hygiene, and community development, and instead has chosen the current path and the current placement of those living in tents in Burien.

      Sweeps are not services. The police have said they will only enforce a ban on camping in certain spaces if there are other spaces that are affirmatively permitted. People can’t just disappear from living outside. Or as Justice Sotomayor asked, in oral arguments for the Grants Pass case, “Where are they supposed to sleep? Are they supposed to kill themselves not sleeping?”

      1. Daniel,
        Most if not all of those outside in Burien would find stability and subsequent housing if they were encouraged and/or driven to seek sobriety, your reluctance to drive that effort is disappointing and deadly.

  3. Daniel,
    Why is it your belief that housing is the answer when your friends die of addiction? You’ve had all this time to interact, nudge, coach, encourage or line up sobriety services to get them out of tents, yet there they die. If anything, your lack of assistance towards the root cause of why they still live on the street is clearly how your efforts are not the best plan and ignore the reality of it all.

  4. The camp must be removed from the business area. Our children deserve to be safe . Needles and fentanyl pills can be picked up killing people.
    The state should create rehabs for these people to get off of drugs then Halfway houses where they live till they are employed for a few months .
    Build Mental Institutions for the mentally ill . Give them help from therapists etc . We give billions away as a nation. Certainly we can fix our problem of drug addicts and homeless. We must remove these tents in the heart of BURIEN , but consider moving the tents brining filth and problem drugs away From families or schools .
    I miss the old safe Burien where children could be safe. Homes were unlocked and crime was low .
    We have a great police force and this problem is not their making .
    Someone in charge must have the common sense to remove tent city from BURIEN .

  5. I moved to Burien ten years ago, because I like this community. It seemed like a wonderful place to retire. At the time it was occupied by hard working caring folks and a great group of independent business owners trying to make a profit.
    We had a beautiful little park at the center of town that had a working water feature where mothers would bring their little ones, who would scream out in laughter. Beautiful blossoming trees, and a fantastic farmers market. I hope some of you remember that. Because that Burien of tens years ago has disappeared. I know this ‘homeless problem’ is not unique to my town, it’s an epidemic this country is dealing with. But let’s return to the US of A that I grew up in. NO one, was given free housing, an EBT card or a free anything. You made strides to keep a job and pay your taxes. Those taxes we paid afforded us to live in a country where we had freedom of expression. We’ll just like the Burien of ten years ago those days of working hard and paying taxes are gone. I know everyone living on the street has a story, but when I see the inability of these folks to take care of themselves and demand that we give them a safe place to live, etc… I wonder what has changed?
    I don’t have an answer.

  6. I was going to reiterate the importance of safety and support of local businesses, but the above writers did a good job of that. What is a city without a safe core? Where in the Constitution, that everyone is always referring to, does it say that you are entitled to a home? My forefathers never heard that. Why are drug addicts and bums given any special treatment? After it is offered and refused, you get a card to get out of town. If your family doesn’t want you, we don’t either. Most of these trouble makers are not even from Burien. Service workers are out every day trying to help, but fentanyl usually wins. Pity and delusion don’t solve problems. The sense of entitlement and free rides actually make me sick. We want productive citizens here, not antisocial people. have a lot of pictures that prove my point. What kind of message are we sending to younger generations? Most of the people I see on the streets causing mayhem are able bodied men with some exceptions. Drug dealers must love this place.

  7. Its not the lack of housing that kills people, its the drugs. I hav told several of my friends I will not watch em die in front of me because of their poor decisions. I will not coddle or condone their wreckless behavior which will lead them to an early grave. & it has for some. It is not up to us to save them. They have to want to save themselves. You cant force anything on those who are not willing to change. So you should really rethink your thinkin about the lack of housing being the culprit here. The majority of the drug addicts wont take the offer of shelter if & when it was given to them because drugs are way more important than quitting & becoming a functioning part of society.

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