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King County claws back $1M for Burien homeless shelter

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(The Center Square) – King County has informed the City of Burien that it is pulling $1 million in funding that was dedicated to building a pallet shelter within the city.

King County Deputy Executive Shannon Braddock informed the city in an email that the funding will be reallocated to the King County Regional Homelessness Authority, or KCRHA, for its own use in south King County.

The Burien City Council approved the $1 million from King County to construct and operate 35 pallet shelters, or pallet village, last November with only hours left to spare before a deadline to accept the funds.

The pallet shelters were intended to operate for up to one year, or whenever the $1 million from King County runs out. However, the estimated grand total for setting up and operating 35 pallet shelters for one year ranges between $900,000 and $1.2 million.

Burien City Manager Adolfo Bailon wrote a response to Braddock’s email saying the city was pleased that the county and KCRHA are taking better steps to address the homelessness crisis.

“The novel decision made by King County to work directly with KCRHA is what should have occurred from the very beginning,” Bailon said in the email. “Instead, King County attempted to discharge its obligation to a city with limited resources and thereby creating a tremendous amount of turmoil within its population.”

“Thank you for finally recognizing the role of a county government when dealing with an issue that extends well beyond all municipal borders,” Bailon continued.

Burien Mayor Kevin Schilling mentioned the announcement during a community talk at Kennedy Catholic High School on Thursday night.

Schilling said the city’s goal is to create 370 units of supportive housing. So far, 90 units have been built.

The city is also mandated to build transitional housing by the state. This includes tiny home villages.

Burien is also in the midst of a legal battle with the King County Sheriff’s Office regarding Ordinance 827, which effectively bans homeless people from living on any public property at any time.

King County Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall said that the city’s ordinance violates federal case law and that her office will not enforce the public camping portion of the ordinance until the constitutionality of the ordinance is resolved.

However, Cole-Tindall’s stance now goes against a new U.S. Supreme Court ruling that finds banning homeless encampments on public property does not constitute “cruel and unusual” punishment.

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