New homeless encampment forms at Burien park days after downtown clear-out

Burien, Wash. — Residents staying at a controversial homeless camp in downtown Burien that was removed late last week has moved to Dottie Harper Park. Those staying at the new encampment tell KIRO7 what the city offered them wasn’t enough to help them out.

“I didn’t have anywhere to go. So, I came here,” Shannon Braswell, who lives at the encampment, said.

The encampment is also just feet away from the playground of the park. Several people KIRO7 spoke with say they worry about kids’ safety and the encampment growing if the city doesn’t come up with a solution to help those residents.

No encampments are allowed on park property, according to Burien Municipal Code.

“We’ve got a bunch of kids who play here and this is basically their playground and it’s not OK that they put their tents here. It’s not a campground,” Adam Auxier, who grew up playing at the park, said.

“But this is an indication that we have a problem because there is just no room for this to happen right up against the kids,” Yvonne Auxier, Adam’s mother, said.

Auxier says she understands the pain those in the encampment are going through because she and her son were once homeless. She believes both the city and county need to do more to help those in need of a place to stay.

“But everything that we support is making sure that bills are passed to support homeless situations,” Auxier said.

And while the city council continues to come up with a solution to the problem, some in Burien believe it will take more than just policy to fix this issue.

“But we ain’t going to do it by looking at that person to fix their addiction when we’ve gotta fix ourselves and our society as a whole,” Sky Adams, who lives near the park, said.

Notices have been posted on tents saying anyone living in the encampment at Dottie Harper Park will have to leave within 72 hours.

“Our community response team, comprised of law enforcement and behavioral health workers, were on site on Friday and revisited the encampment over the weekend, according to Communications and Public Engagement Manager for Burien, Emily Inlow-Hood.

The Burien City Council’s next meeting is at 7 p.m. Monday. On the agenda is the Approval of Resolution No. 499, Approving South King County Housing and Homelessness Partners (SKHHP) 2024 Workplan and Budget.