Protesters want King County to rethink developing ‘homeless megaplex’

KING COUNTY, Wash. — Outraged over the development of what they call a “homeless megaplex”, more than 100 protesters from Seattle’s Chinatown-International District marched into a King County Council meeting.

Just before noon, a group of more than 100 gathered in Hing Hay Park. Grassroots organizers hastily handed out translated call-and-response cards for the walk ahead. Gei Chan was among those leading the pack. Chan says they’re not here because they want to oust the unhoused from the neighborhood. For Chan and others, its about feeling voiceless.

“So it’s not at all against homeless (people). I know some people are trying to paint it that way, but its not,” said Chan. “Everybody here is just asking, can the city, can the county, can government take care of us?”

On May 3, King County Council approved a $54 million dollar lease of nearly seven acres across the street from Uwajimaya. There’s already a shelter space off Sixth Avenue South run by the Salvation Army, but this investment would expand that offering by more than 400 additional beds. Protesters claim they were never consulted; specifically, residents who don’t speak English.

“They only found out a few weeks ago and they’re really upset,” said Chan. “Why didn’t you just talk to us?”

An estimated 60 people signed up to speak at the county council meeting Tuesday. Many comments were directed specifically at council member Joe McDermott, who represents this area.

McDermott declined an on-camera interview with KIRO 7, but said in a statement, in part:

“The CID deserves safety and security so that the community can thrive. We’ve also seen an exponential increase in unhoused individuals in the same stretch of time, and these individuals deserve the most robust support we can offer, as a community and region, to be housed, stable and secure.”

The CID is a community area that includes the neighborhoods of Little Saigon, Japantown, and Chinatown.