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King County funds $3M in Tukwila migrant camp aid and will provide 100 hotel rooms

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(The Center Square) – King County is connecting asylum seekers at an encampment in Tukwila to 100 hotel rooms to aid in a crisis situation involving nearly 100 children living outdoors.

In October, Tukwila Mayor Allan Ekberg issued a state of emergency regarding a large encampment of asylum seekers at the Riverton Park United Methodist Church. Since then, the number of encampment residents has increased, with 500 asylees having passed through the encampment site. As of November 19, the site has 338 people, including 97 children. The church property is adjacent to an elementary school.

Most of the encampment residents are immigrants from Venezuela, Angola and Congo, fleeing violence and conflict in their homeland, as previously reported by The Center Square.

King County is retaining the service provider, Thrive International, to connect residents at the Riverton Park United Methodist Church encampment with up to 100 hotel rooms. According to a press release, the county will prioritize the most vulnerable at the site, including families with small children or those who are pregnant.

As part of the county’s efforts, the King County Council on Tuesday approved $3 million to the Housing and Community Development fund for the project. The funds are the first designated resource to assist people on an interim basis, with longer-term funding and solutions to be determined through a partnership with Washington state and Tukwila.

“This is a temporary but critical step to make sure those most at risk can stay warm, housed, and healthy this winter while government partners at all levels work together toward a more complete solution,” King County Councilmember Joe McDermott said in a statement.

Public Health – Seattle & King County’s Health Care for the Homeless Mobile Medical Van has been assisting the asylees at the church throughout the year. The medical van initially assisted asylees due to scheduled visits to an adjacent tiny home village on the premises.

More recently, the Mobile Medical Van has conducted numerous visits to the church, providing medical assistance to families and children in need and disseminating information on hygiene best practices.

Ekberg said that the county’s $3 million funding to improve access to shelter will give breathing room to develop a viable plan to assist the asylees

“On behalf of our community I want to thank King County for their partnership and coming through with much needed funding to help transition a significant number of asylees at the Riverton Park encampment to safer housing,” said Ekberg.

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