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Burien residents call on city to take action on homelessness, drug addiction

BURIEN, Wash. — The issues of homelessness, drug addiction and safety aren’t just for big cities anymore.

It’s spreading to the suburbs, too, and people in one of those communities say it’s time to deal with the problems head on.

One look at downtown Burien and it’s clear the city is growing.

“With the extra commercial activity and people being here, I mean, there’s positives and negatives to that,” says interim City Manager Tony Piasecki.

With that growth comes new problems. And near the top of that list is homelessness, according to Piasecki.

“We may be seeing a little bit more and maybe a slightly different homeless population because of some of the things going on, particularly in Seattle,” says Piasecki.

Piasecki says the City Council is considering several options, including a possible day shelter, though some people say that’s not an option.

“I’m a single mom and a business owner here in Burien and we are trying to survive here! I have to kick people out of my business doorstep on a daily basis,” says Darla Green.

But others think it could work, or at least it’s worth a shot.

“I believe that we should have a homeless shelter, a day shelter. We have been doing nothing for a long time and that’s not working,” says mom and high school teacher Gretchen Lemon.

“People are making assumptions and painting everybody with the same brush, but offering no solutions,” says mom Alexandra Zulevic.

There’s also concern over drug activity. Just last week we introduced you to a Burien woman who says she found nearly 80 used needles dumped along 4th Avenue. A few weeks before that, we told you about the little boy who, according to his parents, cut himself on a razor blade found outside the Burien Library.

“There’s going to be overlap. Everyone who is homeless is not necessarily a drug addict and vice versa. So, we do see some of those issues and problems in this area. The city of Federal Way, I know, went through almost a two-year process from the first time someone suggested a day shelter. It opened only a few months ago,” says Piasecki.

While Piasecki points to similar communities facing similar issues, Green points out other concerns.

“Seattle is the problem. They are pushing their problems onto the surrounding sister cities. Go to Kent, go to Federal Way, go to Skyway, go to North Seattle. I want people to know that it is coming to their city next,” says Green.

While the community is divided, Piasecki says nothing is going to happen overnight and a lot of research still needs to be done.

Piasecki also says homelessness would fall under the “human services” budget line item, which is at $320,000 annually already.