Burien to build pallet village to address homelessness crisis

BURIEN, Wash. — A solution to build a pallet village in the city of Burien to address its homelessness crisis has passed the city council.

In a 4 to 3 vote, the city of Burien will accept the $1 million from the King County Regional Homelessness Authority to build a pallet village on Seattle City Light property that can house dozens of people.

That money was offered to the city in May, with Monday’s vote ending a lengthy back-and-forth saga that went up right up to the Nov. 27 deadline.

Homelessness has been a major issue in Burien for months. During Monday’s special called meeting, community members, including those experiencing homeless, were happy to see the council take this step.

“It’s a good start ... it would help a lot of people to get them on the right track because that is just what we need -- that place to live, a roof over our head,” one woman told city council.

And it also has many who live in the city breathing a sigh of relief.

“Happiness that they finally made a decision,” said Burien resident Stan Milstid.

And while city council is happy to finally pass some form of this measure, those who live in Burien wished the whole ordeal went differently.

“For some reason Dr. Seuss popped in my head. Do we want a village here? Do we want a village there? Really, do we want a village anywhere?” Annie Phillips said to councilmembers during public comment on Monday.

Prior to Monday’s special meeting, KIRO 7 spoke with Jon Grant with the Low Income Housing Institute, an organization that manages tiny home villages across Western Washington. Grant, who has spoken to the council on several occasions, believes places like tiny home or pallet villages can be productive if managed properly.

“It’s structured. It’s not chaotic. It has the support services. So, the more that people can kind of understand the difference between these two things, I think it would really help the conversation,” Grant said.

But there are some who are still divided on the issue.

“No tent cities anywhere, anytime in Burien will be successful,” a woman against the pallet village asserted.

Both city leaders and the public understand this is just the beginning of truly addressing the homelessness crisis.

“To both keep everybody safe and collaborative as well as get people that are unhoused where they need to go,” Burien Mayor Sofia Aragon said.

As to when this village will be built, Burien City Council members say it could take a few months to get started.