‘Everybody is going down the street’ after Burien homeless encampment is cleared out for dog park

BURIEN, Wash. — The deadline for people living in a homeless encampment on 152nd Street and Sixth Avenue in Burien arrived overnight, and although the occupants have moved out, they say that they’ll likely not go far.

The city was not responsible clearing the lot, nor was King County. Burien requested help from the county previously but was denied, with the county citing the lack of a plan in place to safely house the people being moved. Stephen Young said he made that first move from the library to the corner of SW 6th and 152nd Ave, and like the rest, he’s on to the next spot.

“I don’t know specifically but I think everybody is going to just going down the street really,” Young said.

The organization and animal shelter, Burien CARES, is leasing the lot from the city to turn it into a fenced dog park, and recently posted flyers telling people they needed to vacate by midnight on May 31, with their lease beginning on June 1.

A KIRO 7 News crew was at the camp at around midnight between Wednesday and Thursday, and the residents were still there, save for a few who were packing up their belongings to leave.

As of Thursday morning, the city was clearing out large items on the property but many tents remained.

“Alright guys, let’s wake up. You guys want coffee? Let’s get you guys packed up and moved on,” is how Stephen Young said he was woken up from his tent on Thursday morning. It was the 6 a.m. wakeup call he and the rest of the people who lived on the lot at SW 6th and 152nd Ave expected.

“For about two days now they’ve been pressing ‘Where are you going? what are you doing? What they’re going to do next?’ because obviously this town won’t provide services or housing,” said Young.

For some, the concern is that without placing people in the encampment into shelter, this problem will only persist somewhere else.

“I understand the risks and it being uncomfortable. I feel like people just want to move them around just everybody doesn’t want to see them,” REACH social worker Stephanie Tidholm told KIRO 7. “They’re just going keep getting moved around until there’s an actual resolution.”

Tidholm said a co-worker saw the signage and put the word out to come help. She came to connect people with any help she can, but it’s few and far between.

“There’s nowhere for them to go right now -- we don’t have any beds, we don’t have any resources,” she said. “They were just moved a couple of months ago from the Burien library.”

While the city is not behind clearing the land, it will be responsible for any big items left behind.