VIDEO: ‘We won’t let it happen!’ shout furious opponents of King County’s White Center shelter plan

(Added early Friday: Unedited WCN video of meeting, in its entirety)

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

King County promises a second community meeting about its uncloaked-at-the-last-minute plan to open a 70-bed shelter in White Center.


That followed a tense and intense standing-room-only meeting with more than 100 people, many furious and frightened, saying the shelter proposed for the former Public Health building at 8th and 108th is too close to schools, too close to homes, simply the wrong location.

Some declared they will do whatever it takes to stop it, and were talking about protests and crowdfunding for legal action.

Here’s how the 2 1/2-hour meeting – an hour longer than originally planned – unfolded in TAF’s Bethaday Community Learning Space, close to the location where the county says it wants to open the shelter by November 1st.

The meeting was moderated by Michael Ramos of the Church Council of Greater Seattle, who opened it reiterating that the most-recent One Night Count found 10,000 people unsheltered in King County. It is a “there but for the grace of God go I” situation, he stressed. He said he is part of the All Home coalition that works on the homelessness crisis. “With supportive services, this can be a place of hope and healing for the community.” He promised comments and questions/answers will be “audio-recorded” with an FAQ posted on King County’s website.

The county “is determined to hear” what those in attendance have to say, Ramos promised while trying to set ground rules for the discussion. One man said that he felt it was somewhat disrespectful for the meeting organizers to even have to suggest such rules might be needed.

Next to speak, Mark Ellerbrook, the King County official, to whom we spoke for the preview story we published on Tuesday. “The need in this community is very real,” he declared. Ellerbrook reiterated that Southwest King County has the largest number of people living outdoors outside Seattle – at least 100 estimated to be in White Center, sleeping in doorways, parks, other places. Calls to 211 numbered more than 1,300 for the three zip codes that cover the greater White Center area. “There is no shelter” in this area, he again declared, aside from small shelters for women in West Seattle and Burien. The county looks at where it needs services, and this area qualifies, he said. So, they started looking at where they could provide services, “and move (people) into housing.”

As he had told WCN in our interview, the shelter will operate 5 pm to 8 am. Ellerbrook handed the microphone to Maj. Smith and Scott Morehouse from the Salvation Army.

Smith said he has “been doing this a long time” – involved with shelter, addictions, and is Director of Social Services in the Seattle area. “Our flagship programs have become our shelter operations.” Up to 230 beds at three locations comprise the programs right now, he said, and Morehouse is the manager; he said he’s a “member of the White Center community.”

After their short intros, the microphone was handed to Steve Daschle of Southwest Youth and Family Services, a West Seattle-headquartered nonprofit. As he had told the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council months ago, his organization and others are looking at a potential development at the site of this emergency shelter and the neighboring White Center Food Bank. “We have a vision .. of a community service center that could serve White Center and Southwest King County,” working with the WCFB and White Center Community Development Association. In addition to that, they are talking with Capitol Hill Housing to provide “several units of housing” on that site, but he said it’s still early – at least two, three, four years before the building could be built, “a brand new, beautiful resource for the community.”

First person to ask a question was Bobby Beeman of Sky’s Barber Shop and the White Center Chamber of Commerce, asking why White Center businesses hadn’t been notified until just a few days ago.

He said that WC residents seem to believe that businesspeople are “pushing homeless people” from the business district, into residential areas. “I happen to know that the 300 or 400 people you talk about in White Center, if you go out and had conversation with the people you seem to want to help and ask them what they needed, you’ll find that they prefer to be on the fringe, that they don’t want (what) you are going to offer them.” He also brought up what King County’s Ellerbrook had said, that they operate regionally so people don’t have to be from White Center to use a WC shelter, and so on.

Ellerbrook said yes, that’s true, and said that outreach workers try to build relationships with people to bring them in and help with their issues and while it might not click the first time, it eventually does.

Beeman pressed him on the point of the county suggesting that the business community supported this. Ellerbrook said that they had heard “in various meetings” and then said, “I apologize for” not reaching out directly to businesspeople, and he reiterated that they had distributed notices within 500 feet of the planned shelter.

Next person to speak says the intersection “with four schools” is one of the busiest, most dangerous in the area, and he’s concerned that those schools all will be starting around the time that the shelter sends people out for the day. He said that “We’re not going to stand for this to come into this place, if we have to place a human barrier in front of it.” He vowed to inundate the county with e-mails “because we’re not going to have this.” He also said planning for the facility allegedly began a year ago and there wouldn’t even be a meeting tonight if WCCDA’s Sili Savusa hadn’t told the county they had better talk to the community.”

Next, two people who said that transients go by their house and throw trash into their yard, and that a fire was started.

“Send them to Bellevue, send them to Kirkland!” he and his wife shouted, with supportive shouts coming from the audience.

Next, a woman from the Coalition on Homelessness said the problem is that there are people who have nowhere to go. This facility will offer evening and morning meals, which will allow people more time “to work on their jobs.” Many people sleeping outside do work, she said. “I want to call attention to the fact that the people living outside are human beings like the rest of us, we are all people. They are (also) residents of this community.”

“No, no, no,” yell some in the audience.

The advocate said it’s important that people realize drug and alcohol problems are not limited to unsheltered people. “We are talking about people who might have lived in your community before and lost their homes because they lost their jobs.”

“Do you live in White Center?” someone hollered from the audience.

Next person to speak identified herself as an Arrowhead Gardens resident. She said, “We have two encampments next door and we are comfortable with those encampments … When you talk about drugs, you will note that the people who are living there have a sign that says ‘no drugs allowed'” – she appears to be speaking about Camp Second Chance – and she goes on to say it’s important “that you don’t lump all people who are homeless as (if they are) a monstrosity.” She closes by reading a few lines of poetry.

Next speaker is a woman who identifies herself as a mom, and says this is “kind of unexpected.” She voices concern about children walking to school. She wonders why this location and not one that is more out of the way. Ellerbrook answers the question and says that the layout of the building works well for the various types of people they hope to serve, and reiterates that it’s a “temporary use of a county facility that’s vacant at the moment.”

Then a woman who says she is a White Center “building owner” and married to a business owner says she “cleans my parking lot almost every day,” scrubbing away excrement, picking up needles, bottles, cleaning out graffiti. She says she’s concerned that there’s no limit on nights that people can stay. “What incentive are we giving them … it sounds like enabling … I don’t mean to lump this population with going to get loaded, shoot up, stumble into the shelter … this should be a give-and-take and it sounds like take, take, take.” She thinks people using the shelter should have to show proof they are looking for work and trying to better their circumstances. “What are they going to change?”

Ellerbrook: “If we provide a shelter with barriers – they don’t come indoors. If it’s a low-barrier shelter, we get people to come in, and get them to address” their circumstances and challenges “and move into housing.”

Morehouse from the Salvation Army said that adding part-time case management increased “housing outcomes” at their downtown shelter by seven percent. “You said seven percent?” someone shouted, and someone else laughed.

Maj. Smith said that sheltering originally was about just keeping people from freezing to death on the street. “When you start to provide extended services … they will respond … they do respond. Not everybody responds, but those who do, we’ve seen them increase their ability to stabilize and access other services, and it’s a deterrent to the other things that the community faces … without that. … Intervention of this type leads to a decrease” in the problems. Smith mentions that the Salvation Army already has a nearby location (in South Delridge) where they can “engage” with the people who will be in this shelter.

What does “moving into housing” mean? someone asked. It might be “supportive housing,” Ellerbrook said. It might be “rapid rehousing.” But “we know that those folks who enter into housing stay in it for the long term.”

“Who pays for it?” someone asked loudly.

“So that doesn’t mean those people got on their feet,” said the person who asked the question.

A community member said she had been homeless and supports good programs, but she is concerned that this isn’t the best model, that people will just go out in the daytime and hang around in parks. “I don’t think we have the resources to provide public safety … I also have concerns about a faith-based model being used to support homeless people,” and she suggested other types of programs might help better with recovery.

Maj. Smith said that “being a faith-based organization is a lot different than providing faith-based services” – the programs are not faith-based, he said.

The next person mentioned Camp Second Chance (which is just inside the gate to the City of Seattle-owned Myers Way Parcels). “I asked them what they thought their solution would be … and it was that they can’t afford housing in Seattle. I said, ‘at least you’re not doing drugs here,’ and I got this deer in the headlights look, so I’m not so sure.” She went on to say that she has known methadone-using addicts and has had drug-using squatters on her property, and that the situation on Myers Way “has exploded this summer.” She said that opioid problems seem to be the root of the problem, and said that programs such as methadone and implants are keeping people addicted. She thought some different types of programs should be used.

Next speaker declared, “Communication is terrible, especially from King County, so since the county is going to do what it wants to do, regardless of the protest … what is it exactly that is going to happen to us in six weeks, so we know what to go to Joe McDermott and complain about?”

“We are going through the permitting process for ‘change of use’,” Ellerbrook said. “There are also improvements being made to the building – the fire panel, the facility generally, so it can be managed as a shelter. … This is the first that DCHS has heard (about the intersection concerns),” so they will go to the Roads Department about that. The concerns voiced tonight, he reiterated, will be posted on the county website.

Next, a woman who said she had been in human services for 10 years, “I am not unfamiliar, I have been in One Night Count, I have been out on the streets counting … I, as are (many others) here, am a homeowner, in Seola Gardens. We are a mixed-income community. Before the houses were built, we encountered some of the homeless (people) who would come take advantage of a safe haven that is there … we found many individuals who were opioid users, asleep on the vacant lots.” She said she was concerned about the central intake area, and who will be handling the data so that there are no longer people unable to access services. “How else is the county going to help with MIDD” – mental, instable, drug dependency.

Ellerbrook said that’s a levy that’s up for renewal right now, being considered by the County Council right now “that will be able to directly assist in this area.” Who are the other nonprofits that will be working with the shelter users? the woman asked again. Ellerbrook mentioned Sound Mental Health, as he had in our conversation earlier this week. Also: “One of the key interventions we will be using is ‘rapid rehousing’, to get people into housing quickly, for less cost than historically. … If we can get people into housing, they are successful in (staying housed).”

Besides Salvation Army and Sound Mental Health, he said “coordinated entry” would be done, including an initial assessment. “So if somebody presents at the shelter, they would get an assessment at the shelter … and they would be able to get a referral for housing, and that is managed by the county.”

The next speaker said, “I am excited for this … I think this is a good opportunity … I think (I am hearing) a lot of concern from the audience that we are not informed, that happens a lot in White Center… but … the numbers that we heard in the beginning, that there are 300 people in Southwest King County, unsheltered … the need is already here … we need to provide people a way to make better choices … I know that when I am rested and fed a little bit, I am able to think about things like my job …” He asked people to see people who might have the chance to make a transition.

After him, a man who said, “This is an enhanced shelter, which means no screening of occupants, people could show up drunk, stoned, they’ll be admitted – what about the people in there who are trying to get ahead?” And:”This is not about family homeless situations, this is about people who may not want to get help … it’s not for people under 18; existing felons or drug users can take advantage of this … it’s a regional (problem). These people can come from anywhere. … This is a main thoroughfare, it’s already been pointed out this is a dangerous intersection, I don’t want people squatting under my trees, parking their van in front of my house … this hurts the neighborhood, makes it more prone to crime, drugs, it’s not well thought out, you guys are shoving it down our throats. … This is not the right solution.”

Someone shouted from the back, “why not families?”

Ellerbrook replied that couples will be allowed in this shelter, unlike many. He didn’t answer why children would not be allowed.

Next: “We’re not necessarily opposed … we’re pissed off beyond belief that we’re just now getting to talk about it … we’re being told it’s opening November 1st without getting a chance to have a say. We’re not saying that homeless people are the worst of the worst, but 60 percent of them have alcohol, drug problems .. We want to get them help but we’re not being given the chance. Did you talk to the parents of (nearby schools)?”

No! shout many in the audience.

She says she has a daughter at Mount View Elementary and is worried that once the shelter users are sent out for the day, they’ll hang out in the area. The shelter operators will not know if any of them are sex offenders or have criminal backgrounds. “You have no respect for this community,” she shouts.

There’s no response to the statement, and many shout, “NO RESPONSE? ANSWER THE QUESTION!”

Ellerbrook says they reached out to the schools. Then a woman runs up to the front of the room and says she hasn’t been able to sleep for nights since hearing about the shelter plan, and that she talked to Highline Public Schools‘ security chief and that he told her he knew nothing about it.

The woman continues to shout that the children would be walking the same path as the people using the shelter.

One man in the back of the room shouted, “THERE WILL BE NO SHELTER!”

Another woman shouting from the side of the room demanded to know more about when there was alleged outreach to the schools.

Ellerbrook said he talked to a principal last week.

“LAST WEEK?” people shouted.

“You need to talk to the parents!” some shout.

“We will not let it happen! It will not let it happen!” people shouted.

Someone else shouted “GoFundMe page for an attorney!”

Answering a question from a few minutes earlier, Ellerbrook said that funding was planned for the shelter through 2017, and then part of it would be from state funds and “some of the other local dollars we use to provide shelter through the county.”

Next person to speak told those at the meeting that they “have done a pretty poor job” of getting information to the community. “That being said, these people who need the support and the services who are going to be offered at this place are already part of our community, they are already here, and I think there’s a great amount of evidence that these services are successful.” He wanted the Salvation Army to explain what kind of success they’ve said.

Morehouse said, “The people you come into contact with who access shelter and walk away as a success story, I wish we could tell you the numbers are huge … but we know that’s not really possible. What we are committed to is intervention, what we are committed to is trying to find resources for people, trying to help (them) on this almost impossible journey … If we don’t, who will?”

Next attendee said he has had to put up a fence on his property to keep transients away. He had trouble reaching someone in King County to listen to him. “I think you guys are confusing what the problem is.”

“The problem is that we have too many people here already,” someone said.

A woman said, “When you have children in this area, it’s location, location, location … when we call the cops every single night because there are people out back, couples out back, having sex, swearing, leaving needles, condoms, we can’t even have our grandchildren play at our home, when we can no longer use a park because all these people are going to be released out into the community … God bless the homeless, I wish I could give a home to everyone of them, but it’s this location, why could you not have chosen somewhere else? The complaint is location, we might as well be the third frickin’ runway here, we were not given any warning. … you can’t have a discussion for a year and then suddenly” bring it forward.

Pat Price from the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council said they received no official notification – it was brought up at their last meeting only because a NHUAC member lived close enough to get the notice about this. (And we should note, the only reason we heard about this is because we routinely cover NHUAC meetings, and are the only media organization that does that – we then had to work through the county to get the notice.) She asked if King County uses “its own Equity Impact Tool” or if it commissioned a housing analysis or opportunity mapping while planning this project. And Price wondered about the meeting notice’s mention that the community could suggest alternate sites.

“This is the worst site!” shouted someone in the back of the room.

Ellerbrook said they heard a suggestion for the DSHS building in downtown White Center, so they investigated it, but: “That’s been fully leased out to Sea Mar,” he said. A man in the back of the room said the county wasn’t aware of that previously.

The next person to speak said she felt “there should be a shelter somewhere in White Center – but, in a residential area, where there are homes north, east, south, west – children walk to school, my child, and it’s not as safe as it was when I used to walk to school – I’m glad this community is here today. These questions haven’t been answered to our community. Our community is suffering from this and we need to talk again. Homelessness in White Center is real … November is only two months away .. this community doesn’t really need a shelter in the residential area.”

Another woman says she found out about the meeting from a neighbor who works with the school district. “You should have had meetings when you started planning a year ago.” She said she had suggested previously that unused school buildings be used. If school district people had been notified back at the start of the planning process, they could have offered those suggestions.

Ellerbrook said they would take that suggestion under advisement as well as possibly changing the discharge hours at the shelter. Then people started shouting, that’s not the problem, it’s the location. Ellerbrook said, “Are there ways that we can mitigate the concerns?”

“No!” shouted many in the crowd.

Ellerbrook reiterated that people who will be served by the shelter are “in the community” now. “We will be doing outreach to those specific locations, to people who are already in your community, who are causing some of the issues (that people at the meeting have brought up).”

The next speaker identified herself as 26 years old and said homelessness has been an issue since before she was born, so, “What is the rush? … If these resources haven’t been available before this, then why are we rushing something that clearly the community is not on board with? This is definitely an issue that needs to be addressed in this neighborhood – I have a heart for members of this community (including those who are homeless) and this could be an amazing thing if it had been addressed correctly.”

Ellerbrook addressed that question by saying that they wanted to open it before the worst weather hit, “when we open emergency shelters throughout the county.”

Barbara Dobkin of NHUAC pointed out that this was not brought up at the most recent Community Service Area meeting. “We are presently a community of poverty … We have progressively been getting poorer and this is by design. This isn’t by accident, this is by design. … Why is it that White Center is a catch-all for things that nobody else wants?”

Ellerbrook says again that this will serve people who are already in the community, and that many of them are likely to be members of underserved, underrepresented groups.

A man saying he just moved into Seola Gardens says he is worried about policing, and that “Seattle is making their problems our problems.” He wonders what kind of protection people can expect.

“Self-policing!” says a man in the back. “Arm yourselves!”

“People don’t want to be homeless,” Ellerbrook said in his next reply.

“Baloney!” someone hollered.

Ellerbrook said that if people know they have a spot in the shelter the next night, they won’t be queueing up outside it. “What do you do when it’s full?” an attendee shouted.

Next person said he was frustrated to hear of the 7 percent success rate. He said he got a flyer and ran around his neighborhood telling his neighbors about it, and that they hadn’t heard. He lives near Mount View Elementary and said that he called police a few years back about a prostitution problem. He said that the shelter will bring the neighborhood down. That led to someone else complaining about car prowling problems. “You can’t take care of the people who are here now.”

The next speaker said she had lived in her car for six months, with a baby, “it was not a pleasant experience,” and she had help getting out of it, but had to live up to certain “parameters.” And she was concerned about not knowing who will be in the area. “Think of the children,” she said, “really.”

“I’ve heard a lot about this being temporary – is it temporary until it becomes permanent?” asked the next questioner. She also worried about people coming to the shelter after being “swept” from crime-ridden encampments like Seattle’s “Jungle.”

Ellerbrook reiterated that the time frame would be likely up to three years. And he again said, this is for people who are in the community now. That drew more shouting about the “regional” explanation that had been offered earlier. Regarding the seven percent “success rate,” he said they know that is low, and that’s why they are moving to the “enhanced shelter” plan, which they feel will have a much higher success rate.

Asked if this has been announced, he said, “We have not mentioned this to any homeless people.”

At this point, 8:37 pm, two hours into the meeting, Ramos said there were 25 more people signed up to speak.

The next one said he hadn’t received a notice about the meeting but was wondering if the county would consider screening, or changing the plan to a women’s shelter.

“One of the things we know is that we screen too many people out of shelter,” Ellerbrook reiterated. “Low-barrier shelters” get more people indoors and connected to services.

“The ones who can’t make it elsewhere?” shouted someone.

Next speaker asked again, why won’t this shelter be open to families?

Ellerbrook said that “co-mingled facilities” with singles, couples, and families don’t work, “because of the low-barrier nature of the shelter …”

“Because it’s not safe!” people shouted. “Just say it!”

Ellerbrook said, “What I know from our shelter operators is that they don’t operate shelters that are (co-mingled).”

So why is it safe for the shelter to be near schools? others demanded to know.

The next speaker went up and started shouting in Ellerbrook’s face from inches away.

Then another asked the question posed above – so if they’re not safe under your roof, why are they safe near schools and homes?

Ellerbrook replied, “when we have the shelter open … these folks are going to be indoors, receiving the case-management services they need. … We very clearly heard the concern about children walking down the street.”

At that point, there was another shout about raising money for a lawyer. Another person said, “I think what you people are doing is criminal, and was not done properly … I don’t really have any questions … I don’t really like the answers, they’re not really answers.” He mentioned the disc golf course at Dick Thurnau Memorial Park. “It’s taken about 30 years to get rid of homelessness and everybody’s concerns … and you’re inviting this back without (asking anyone) … I found out through neighbors. The location is terrible, around schools, in a park – 300 feet from the building – that’s where they’re going to go. It’s criminal what you guys are doing.”

Next attendee: “I don’t have kids, but it’s about the location. The way you have communicated is atrocious.” She says she enjoys running through the park without worrying … and “we know there’s a homeless problem, and I would love to work with you on a solution, but it can’t be at that location.”

A man who spoke before took the spot of a neighbor and declared again that they will crowdfund for a lawyer and “put an injunction on this. We have to stop it.” He said that as a parent he will be “sleeping with a gun on my chest.”

Former White Center Chamber of Commerce president Mark Ufkes says there’s been an overnight provider in WC “that’s has some success taking people off the street” and that he and his children took people to the shelter to get them off the street. He said he was heartened to hear that many people agree there is a problem with homelessness, and he is glad to hear that White Center is now going to do its part. “We have a lot of people in White Center who need help right now.”

The next speaker echoed that people experiencing homelessness need help.

Ellerbrook said he would be interested in a followup meeting about addressing the problem of homelessness in the community. “There are ways that (the plan) can be modified to address the concerns.”

“We’re willing to be part of the solution – give us the chance!” a woman said.

“I hear you loud and clear – you don’t want it here,” Ellerbrook said, proposing that a second meeting be held to work through concerns.

Get the word out more widely, people said. “Expand the notification!” someone said. “Tell the schools!” someone else said. “Put a stop to it (in the meantime)!” yet another person said.

Ramos then took the microphone and reiterated that they will have another meeting and get the word out.

The next speaker was a young woman who said that she is a Cascade Middle School student and she is not afraid of homeless people but she is afraid of what she has heard, that she might get hurt. “What you’re doing is wrong,” she told the meeting organizers.

Then, Sili Savusa of the White Center Community Development Association, speaking about the community’s strength, and that it “knows how to get stuff done.”

She said she heard about this and it “caught me off guard, and I thought, ‘the community needs to be part of the conversation’, but what I don’t want to see is another community like White Center to be marginalized and have a decision made without them in the room either.” She calls for a citizens’ committee to be created, and to include people experiencing homelessness. “We need to get the right people in the room to talk about this.” And, she says, she is asking that the county put a hold on the plan, “take a step back, look at it, on behalf of the homeless folks who need services all over the community.”

Ellerbrook says he will “take (Savusa) up on (the committee idea).”

We recorded the entire two and a half hour meeting on video and will add that video when it is ready, in the early morning.

7:18 AM FRIDAY: That video has now been added, atop this story.

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31 Responses to “VIDEO: ‘We won’t let it happen!’ shout furious opponents of King County’s White Center shelter plan”

  1. Thank you for reporting on this!

  2. THANK YOU! Your blog is the only reason I even knew about this proposed plan

  3. The most telling point of the night was near the end. The 12 year old who, listening to the fear mongering people in the room, thinks she is now doing to be raped or beaten walking to and from school. Well done!!

  4. Did they disclose the 3 zip codes, used to reach their “estimate” of 100 homeless in White Center?

  5. I didn’t get to look at the maps. However, I have linked in this story to the regional zip code map, at the mention of the zip codes, and it shows fairly clearly which three overlap. Mostly 98146 of course with a bit of 98106 and I believe the third is 98168, though that appears to have 1st Ave. S. as its boundary and as I sometimes wind up arguing with people, that’s Top Hat, not WC.

  6. Thanks, Tracy!

  7. Separate story to come later but in the meantime – in a note replying to some followup questions I asked, King County sent the link to the FAQ now online

  8. Keith Lionetti Says:

    Everyone needs to realize there are actually 5 schools in close proximity. MountView,Evergreen,Cascade,White Center Heights, & TAF building being the 5th school building as well as community center & something that was not mentioned was the newly repurposed tennis courts (about 500′ from building) being a bike training facility for toddlers headed up by Cascade Bike Club. So to echo the majority,it’s a terrible location. Not only that but the fast tracking & how they purchased building without any public knowledge & permitting without public knowledge as well as being well into planning is absolutely criminal. Logic is the amount of grant funding is much more when it’s a county owned building & when taking in unscreened persons. It’s about money & it’s an atrocity to use the homeless in this regard & basically provide a building & accommodations to enable unhealthy addictions.

  9. I wonder if there is list or possible % rating of these homeless people that are in fact sex offenders or have a criminal history or are known criminals.

    I am betting the local police officers would most likely have a good idea of how many are out there.

    Some of these people might be criminals but some might just be trying to get there life’s back on track ether way.

    Also if this is a Emergency shelter doesn’t that mean it will only be open when it is freezing out or bad weather.

    I wonder if there are any planes for some type of security team to keep a eye things. I think this might make some in the community feel a little safer.

  10. The “plan” does NOT include screening. How many additional deputies would we need to provide a “security team?”

  11. Liz that would be up to the salvation army and county. I would bet there are probably some officers that might even do it for free off duty. If the exit time is 8 am and schools are all in session by 9:30am a hour and a half a time would not be much. There’s also school security and regular police patrolling so I say maybe a 2 or 3 trained security officers would work.

    Or we could leave as it is now these homeless people that might be sex offenders and criminals out on the streets all night to do what ever.

    With out someone trying to help them turn there life’s around.

    Here I got idea for anyone that wants to get a slight idea of how it is to be homeless try living off a pack of saltine crackers for two days nothing else under a tarp in your yard. See what you feel like and how if you had no one to help you and it’s freezing cold out. You have no money no food no car no way to get a job.

    Then think if you ran a business that has a help wanted sign and some homeless person came in to fill out a application with no home address no phone to contact them what would you do. Oh yeah they haven’t showered in week’s

    It’s unfortunate that there are homeless people around but if we don’t try to do something in the right direction it’s just going to get worse.

    Now yes maybe this location is not best but is what’s available it also better than a green tarp on the side of a freeway.

  12. These people talk out of the side of their face so much its ridiculous! My favorites:
    “The shelter is safe for our community but it’s not safe for children to stay in the shelter.”
    They “screen people out of shelter”
    I’ll tell you something… If you have an active warrant or you’re carrying dope, you dont belong in a shelter…. You belong IN JAIL!! They want to turn WC into a homeless dumping ground. I don’t see any of these shelters opening up in Queen Ann or South Lake Union or any upscale areas in the city. If WC gets one, every city should have one! EVERYONE should share in the burden of homelessness! This is BS!!!

  13. Jimmy, the direct answer at the meeting is that there are no plans to add additional deputies to cover the White Center area as a result of the shelter opening, on track to happen on November 1. The shelter is planned to be open 7 days per week and the plan is for at least a 3 year operational timeframe. Current funding will last into 2017.

    The sheriff, by the way, is being asked to cut operational costs by $3.8 million in the next biennium due to a projected $50 million shortfall in General Fund revenues at the county in the next 2 years compared with current service (expenditure) levels …

  14. Facts are appreciated. Thanks, Mark!

  15. When there was a state of emergency after Katrina they opened the football stadium for shelter. I don’t see Safeco or Centurylink Field opening up at night to house any homeless. Why not??

  16. Well mark that just means the salvation army would have hire private security or train it’s staff to be handle a issue. Which most likely there already trained for.

    I think it time someone from this blog go out and get some interviews with some of the homeless people around. Ask them how they feel about this and if they would use it or not.
    Maybe even ask about the crime and how they feel about accused of stuff right off the bat just for being homeless.

  17. We should all live in healthy communites with roofs over our heads. North Highline is struggling. Why here? At what cost?

  18. Question mark I have to wonder why a skyway resident is worried about a homeless shelter in white center. Now I understand it may be the fact king county is involved. I wondering what your whole play or intention on this is.

    Also do you have any clue of how city,county and state budgets work. See what happens is one of the above will look at there spending and try to plan to spend the same amount if not a little more. But if for some reason they don’t spend that same amount then a % of that budget for next year gets cut and that money goes to another project or it ends up being a savings to the tax payer.

    Then when you go to vote for someone that has served in a government office already they go oh look I cut taxes I lower this and that vote for me.

  19. SuperDeliDude Says:

    Thanks for this coverage, much appreciated. All neighborhoods in this city have a human obligation to help the less fortunate, and I don’t think our end of West Seattle gets out of that obligation just because we have our own humanitarian issues already. But it does irk me that this feels like an attempt to sweep an issue down to an end of town there fewer people will have to confront it. I don’t see a shelter being proposed in Admiral or Alki.

  20. For those asking about shelters in Seattle neighborhoods: As of September 5, emergency shelters in Seattle that had been shuttered for the last six months due to funding issues are being re-opened. A list of locations here:

  21. I have to question why a Burien resident is worried about a homeless shelter in White Center.
    Maybe we should put it in there back yard, like at the closed Staple’s store.
    Then let’s see how many of them would fight it and complain if it was in there back yard.

    If the Salvation Army is in charge of this, then why not use there facility on 16th SW. They have room there.

    Plus, lets not forget about the pool either.

    Also, if you noticed in Verde’s post, the shelters listed SCREEN the people coming in.

    If this shelter was open to families or to women with children, I don’t feel that half as many people would be opposed to it.

    There are a lot of homeless children in this area too, and they should come first.

    It’s all about location and this is not the right place to have this shelter at all.

  22. I support a shelter plan, I want to be clear on that. The folks you are worried about being near schools and children and everything else are already out and about in these areas. This establishes contact and starts to get people to come in and maybe get some help. However, if the one and only barrier to the community coming together and supporting this is the location, then that needs to be figured out. Keep in mind that no matter where the shelter is, it is going to overlap with something – businesses you frequent, your neighbor’s house, or some other place that you want to be. There is no place where it will be invisible.

    Regardless of location: It’s low-barrier for a reason – the more screening and demands you make of people before you offer help = the less people getting help. Families and children in homeless situations have some other resources already that are specifically geared towards them. (And if you want to support them, check out the incredible Mary’s Place for a start:

    I also do not believe this is a permanent solution – this is emergency shelter and beginning outreach. We should all be advocating that we move towards a housing-first model more like what Houston has done (as an example). By redistributing their funding and uniting their support resources, they have made great progress. This is something that should be happening in not just Seattle, but all of King County.

    There is no simple easy solution to this. People who are chronically homeless have a lot of stuff working against them – mental illness, extreme poverty, addiction, legal issues (from minor to major) – and trying to get out from under that is not as simple as “get a job”. Stability has to happen first. No stability, no permanent address, no safety means the cycle continues.

    I strongly recommend that everyone take a breath, do some reading/research, and try to work together to come up with constructive solutions that will work for the community. Where are the areas we can improve this plan and make it work better? We need to help our homeless residents, and everyone needs to feel safe and secure. It’s not an easy compromise, but it can be done if we work together.

  23. Top hat area verde post is not for this shelter it’s a another group that runs shelters.

    Just to let you know I actuality live close to the border of white center and I am not worried about this shelter. I am worried about how people treat other people. Since theirs a lot people in white center and other areas that live paycheck to paycheck and if that paycheck is not there then where do think they would be. How do think some of these people became homeless not all of them want to be that way.

    Also there is a women shelter in burien there was or still is a church that also where taking in homeless people in burien. Which yes a lot people in burien complain about it. The city council in burien along with the burien/king county police have work with some organization in the king county area to try to help some of these homeless people other just than arresting them.

    The Navos building in burien can help direct patients that are homeless to shelters if needed. So just in case if you did not know burien is doing something to help or at least trying to.

  24. We mentioned that Burien shelter in our pre-meeting story about the White Center proposal. According to King County, it is a very small shelter for women only, as is a similar shelter at a West Seattle church… fewer than 20 women sheltered between the two.

  25. Yes Tracy I am aware of that but it seems as the person posting under the name Top Hat Area was not aware of it. Seems to think that the homeless people don’t already call burien home or a place to stay.

  26. I’m very aware that Verde’s post is for listings of other shelters and not the White Center one. I was trying to point out that they screen incoming on every shelter that is listed, and the White Center shelter is not going to do this.

    I also know that there are the two other shelters which house approximately 10 women each, between Burien and West Seattle and that doesn’t come close to the 70 that they are going to let in at this shelter.
    Victory Outreach also opens during the cold season.
    I have nothing against shelters, just not this one, because of the location. I know that the King County is going to do what every they want and the White Center community is not going to have any say in what is happening in our community. That was very evident at the meeting that they had. Simply by ignoring and not answering the questions. Just referring to what they are going to do at this shelter.
    It is a very heated topic. I am glad for Liz Giba and Barbara Dobkin for being on the NHUAC board, because they can see exactly what is happening to this community and it is wrong.
    This was handled inappropriately and only giving the community 6 weeks notice. Totally wrong.

  27. Well if you read the article above they say this is a low-barrier shelter that was meant to just keep homeless people from freezing to death in the winter. But now they are going to have people from sound mental health and some drug and alcohol counselors on site. There also looking at housing programs to get these people off the streets and your yards and business parking lots.

    But this help is going to take time and effort so maybe if the people complaining about this. Would pull there heads out of there well you know where and realize to get these homeless people back on track and out of here it’s going take some work. There not just going to disappear on there own.

    Now if you really are so concerns about these people harassing your children or committing crimes then when this place opens volunteer to do security work. Help out get to know these people instead of just jugging them. Show some simple respect for a human being.

  28. Sure, is Sound Mental Health going to provide security for Metro buses? As a victim of multiple assaults on King County Metro in recent years, I can tell you, no one is particularly interested in protecting the public… especially when politicians can make themselves look good by opening these “no-barrier” shelters.
    Also, not faith-based? I’m so certain that if I needed shelter with my same-sex partner, they’ll totally look the other way instead of telling me and my mate I’m going to hell. That’s why I don’t give to those little red kettles.
    Largely, by keeping this situation as clandestine as possible, they’re hoping to do this without our input. No wonder people are angry! You haven’t been paying attention if you’re wondering why Americans are pissed off about government doing things behind our backs or under our noses. This is NOT us blaming the homeless (as someone who has been homeless twice, I know some of them are good, but others just don’t care.) This is about us caring very deeply about the problem of homelessness… but not in such a way that endangers those of us who live here. Those of you crying about “the humanity!” are missing the point where we reiterate how much we DO care. We just don’t want this kind of thing foisted on us and our community. (And no, “volunteering” to be security for this place isn’t going to work. Abuse of power, anyone?)

  29. At least the site has reasonable transit service with the 128 a the front door and three other routes on 4th Ave SW. That could improve employment prospects for those working and looking for work.

  30. I found this article posted on the Highline Times. I don’t know why it is posted there. It should have been posted on the White Center Blog and the White Center now.
    There is suppose to be a petition to sign to stop the White Center Shelter from opening. I don’t know who has the petition to sign. That information was not listed in the article.

    You can read the information on the link listed below:

  31. Hi – we have no affiliation with that publication, cannot use information from it or any other news publication with which we aren’t affiliated (copyright and ethics), and have not directly received any information about a petition or any other citizen followup. The best address to reach us at is through our main publication,, and we’d certainly take a look at it.