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VIDEO: Sunrise Financial Services hosts DESC facility community meeting on Thursday

By on June 4, 2021 0

Story, photos and video by Scott Schaefer

On Thursday evening June 3, 2021, Vanessa Potts and Janice Hammond of Sunrise Financial Services in Burien hosted a community meeting on the Supportive Housing Project offered by the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) in Burien.

As we have already done reported, DESC wants to build a 6-storey, 85-unit supportive housing center at 801 SW 150th Street. This has been a real hot issue for the city lately, and needs to be approved by Burien’s Affordable Housing Demonstration Project, and may be voted on at a board meeting on Monday, June 14, 2021.

In a noble attempt to get more public comment on this proposal and strategize to effectively develop a better outcome, the two hosts have done their best to argue and referee an at times uncontrollable public forum on this local issue. controversial. Well deserved congratulations to them and their staff for doing this.

And it was clear that they both invested a lot of time and energy in this effort.

Seen at the meeting: Mayor Jimmy Matta, Councilor Kevin Schilling, City Manager Brian Wilson, as well as former Councilor Debi Wagner and 2021 nominees Patty Janssen and John White. Local businessman Danny House was also in attendance, along with several other familiar and less familiar locals. As far as we can tell, no one from DESC was present.

Outside the sidewalk meeting was a group of protesters – including 2021 Council candidate Charles Schaefer (not related to Scott Schaefer) showing his support for DESC. Inside was a crowd of around 30-40 mostly maskless, mostly concerned residents, most of whom were very keen to share their thoughts.

While there were no forks or flames visible, controlling this meeting was not an easy task from the start as one attendee started things off by interrupting the hosts’ opening comments. While Potts and Hammond referred to a large sign they posted on the wall asking attendees to be patient, kind, and not to interrupt, there was at least one person who didn’t. apparently not received the memo and often started to speak loudly as the hosts tried to speak. More than once they were berated and said they would be removed from the meeting, but it never happened.

“Before I go ahead, I’ll let you know what my plan is for the rest of the evening, and if you don’t agree with me, it’s probably a good time for you to go. “Potts told the crowd around halfway through the meeting.

Despite the interruptions, Potts and Hammond persevered, discussing several issues they felt should be raised at Burien City Council’s upcoming June 14 public hearing on the matter (a list of their questions is below).

VIDEO: Sunrise Financial Services hosts DESC facility community meeting on Thursday 2Some of the issues discussed included:

    • DESC will go ahead and build the facility even if it is not approved for the City of Burien Affordable Housing Demonstration Pilot Project?
    • Is there a way to prioritize the homeless in Burien?
    • What standards are tenants held to? What is the eviction procedure?
    • What precautions are taken to reduce burglaries, vandalism, public use and drug trafficking?

A staff member helped the hosts time the audience’s comments with a bell ringer. More than once the bell has been ignored by commentators, despite the valiant efforts of the staff member to ring it over and over again. Sometimes it felt like the end of a boxing round with the bell ringing repeatedly (one Facebook commentator said, “Glad I’m not Pavlov’s dog!”).

No one ever said that it was easy to organize an open community meeting on a complex local issue like housing for the homeless. But once again, we applaud the community spirit displayed by Sunrise Financial in facilitating this important gathering.

Here are some comments from residents we heard at the meeting (NOTE: due to bad sound some of them are paraphrased):

Danny House: “The problems boil down to this – they (DESC) started to be dishonest. They do not place Burien residents or 25 Burien ex-combatants there. And the housing manager said so. We don’t know the answers, and asking these questions means we’re neither against nor for. The fear is that they will come and jostle us … “

Mayor Jimmy Matta: “I had a conversation with the county executive (Dow Constantine) and had a lot of questions for him. I want to hear from you, but I don’t like being yelled at. I want to ask these questions and if they don’t answer them, we have a problem …. I want to see some locals housed here.

Chuck Rangel: “I’m still waiting for the affordability aspect and the definition of affordability?” What happens if they (the residents) no longer have an income? “

John White: “What matters to the hearing is just a question: are they eligible for the city’s affordable housing program or not? This is what we have to focus on.

VIDEO: Sunrise Financial Services hosts DESC facility community meeting on Thursday 3rd

The meeting lasted around 1 hour and 15 minutes, and below is a nearly raw video of the meeting (including all interruptions), with a cut from when our cell signal died and we had to restart our Facebook live feed (you might enjoy reading all the comments of the posts on Facebook here). We also did our best to reduce noise and smooth out the audio, but were limited by unexpected audience chatter and microphone limitations:

(courtesy Sunrise Financial Services)

    • Where do DESC tenants get their money? How is their rent paid? Is it taken directly from their government funding? Or do they write DESC a check every month?
    • What notifications have been sent to local businesses regarding this proposal?
    • Do you have a list of companies that have been notified, educated about the project and also documented recognition of it?
    • Are there local businesses supporting this project?
    • What happened to Renton?
    • Why DESC chooses Burien now?
    • Are there any regulations on the risk reduction policy?
    • Other DESC facilities have adjacent clinics, what’s the plan here?
    • Will there be an agreement with local hospitals and clinics?
    • What is the strategy to encourage rehabilitation? What immediate medical and counseling resources are available?
    • What employment resources are available?
    • What percentage of tenants re-enter the company on a routine basis?
    • Which community can we watch with proven statistics?
    • What community has been documented and proven that a proposal of this nature can actually remove homeless people from their own streets?
    • What is the average age of their tenants? How long do they live in DESC care?
    • How many staff will be available and into what type of resources?
    • Are there volunteers to clean up the strewn needles since DESC has distributed them?
    • What standards are tenants held to? What is the eviction procedure?
    • Can we see a copy of the rental agreement?
    • Is there a three warning system?
    • What precautions are taken to reduce burglaries, vandalism, drug use and trafficking in public?
    • Is there a policy in place if a local resident or company member has a conflict or is the victim of a tenant accident?
    • Are background checks required before approving a tenant? What stories are allowed? Is it common knowledge?
    • Are evicted tenants being asked to go with next of kin? Back in a shelter close to their original address? Is it possible to create something of this nature?
    • Is there a way to prioritize the homeless in Burien?
    • DESC published the following statement on the B-town blog: “Future tenants will likely already reside in Burien, but without safe and secure accommodation. “
    • Our understanding is that this is not possible due to the King County Coordinated Entry Program – does DESC know anything we don’t know?
    • Will there be outreach activities to the local homeless population to enroll them in the coordinated entry program?
    • What other targeted efforts will be made to educate the homeless population of Burien?
    • What will be done proactively? How will it really get the homeless out of the rue de Burien? What is the logistics? How will it work?

If you have any other questions or concerns that you would like to see addressed by City Council and DESC, please email them to [email protected].