Each candidate running for the Burien City Council Aug. 1, 2023 Primary Election was asked ten questions by The B-Town Blog, covering topics like their reasons for wanting to serve on the council, what they think about current issues in the city, and what kind of solutions they have.
The following responses to the third question in our series are from candidates for Position 2, which is currently held by Cydney Moore, who is up for reelection.
NOTE: Candidates are listed in order as per the King County Elections online Voters Guide website. Photos and links are to/from each candidate’s profile on the same website.
What are your thoughts on conducting sweeps of homeless encampments? How would you balance the rights and needs of people experiencing homelessness and those of other residents and businesses in Burien?
Did not respond.
“Sweeping homeless encampments does not solve the problem of homelessness, but neither does enabling unsafe living conditions and behaviors. We must address the root causes of homelessness, such as drug addiction, mental illness, and poverty. This will require a multi-pronged approach that includes government, businesses, and nonprofits working together.
“We also need to have difficult conversations about homelessness. We need to be willing to listen to the concerns of everyone involved, to find compassionate, effective, and fair solutions that do not enable unsustainable behaviors. Accountability goes both ways.
“Together, we can make Burien a safe and livable community for all.”
“No matter which position one takes around encampment sweeps there are many assumptions made and insufficient space here to truly break down a full explanation, but here is the basic: I understand sweeps are difficult to those who go through them due to the various dynamics individuals are living (addiction, mental health or extortion…or all three at times). There should not be sweeps but mandatory in-patient re-location, for reasons explained previously.
“I understand the question about rights of the homeless and the assumption with this right is that they are in their full mental state to be able to advocate appropriately (making the safe decision of accepting help to stop self-harming), and those who refuse help and continue to stay on the streets are not in their full mental state. Therefore, with this assumption, the city then has an obligation to stop them from self-harming and the homeless must be relocated to in-patient facilities to help them be in a proper mental state to make safe choices moving forward.
“There is not a balance that needs to be made, the bottom line is for everyone’s safety; not one person’s rights of safety over others. The homeless, the ones on the streets in tents that we see (I make this differentiation because there is the homeless population that is unseen “couch-surfing” or sleeping elsewhere) in the encampments are not safe. Their safety is at risk for many reasons and the solution I propose is a first step for them to be safe. This also helps them to be in a position to harm others (other homeless or the public/businesses).”
“We know that sweeps don’t work. Displacing people, disrupting any progress they might be making towards stability, creating more difficulty for support networks to find and help people, is counterproductive. This isn’t speculation – there is plenty of research out there that shows this to be true. We have to bring forth real solutions to the issue of homelessness – not just shuffle people around, or try to push them out of sight and out of mind.
“When it comes to addressing the homelessness crisis, we must take an approach that serves to benefit all of us in this community – and there is a clear path forward to doing just that. Nobody wants people who are unhoused sleeping on our sidewalks, in alleys, or out in other public spaces. We need to hone in on the root of that concept, though: nobody wants people unhoused. If we don’t want homeless people in our community, the simplest solution is to provide them with housing. Through that single act, people who are considered a nuisance can suddenly become just another neighbor.
“When someone is in a crisis as devastating as being without a home, without shelter and the essentials one needs to survive, it becomes incredibly difficult to focus on anything other than basic survival. When we offer people stability and support, it provides them an opportunity to heal, to improve, to have hope for a better future. Housing is the most basic necessity required for a sense of stability for anyone; if someone doesn’t have a place to get a good night’s sleep, or shower, or store clean clothes, or have walls they can feel safe behind, when someone has nothing to their name, all they are left with is despair, and desperation.
“The outreach workers contracted with our city, the trained professionals who have access to networks of resources throughout the region and have developed relationships with our unhoused population through years of working with them, have told our leaders and our community in no uncertain terms that there simply is not enough shelter or housing available to meet the needs of our homeless population – but as soon as options become available, people are quick to take it. We have to find a stopgap solution in the interim between someone sleeping on the streets and gaining access to permanent housing.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Look also for answers to this same question by candidates for Burien City Council, Position No. 4.
Next up in our 2023 election series – we ask Burien City Council candidates: