By Cesar Linares Estevez, Highline Organizer at the Church Council of Greater Seattle | June 25, 2021
On Monday June 21 the Burien City Council voted 6-1 to approve the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) proposal as part of the city’s Affordable Housing Demonstration Program. The DESC Burien Supportive Housing plan will bring 95 units of desperately needed permanent, supportive housing to Burien. 25 of these units are designated for veterans.
Low-income families and individuals in Burien have few options when looking for affordable housing in the city. While the cost of living and rent continues rising steadily new housing developments come to Burien, but none of these new units have been affordable for low-income families or individuals. The evident gap in affordable housing access in Burien is even more glaringly obvious and worrisome as it relates to individuals that are unhoused and experiencing chronic homelessness.
Research demonstrates that low-income families and individuals are especially at risk for falling into homelessness, largely due to lack of access to affordable housing. All it takes is one necessary surgery, losing their home in a fire, or any number of un-preventable life events to put any family or individual in serious financial trouble.
Families and individuals do not choose to be unhoused and be on the streets. Homelessness is a public health crisis that requires delicate and humane consideration. Many people experience high rates of chronic mental and physical health challenges in addition to homelessness itself.
The approval of DESC is one of the many next best options that the city of Burien and others like it can take in finding real, effective, and bold solutions in providing housing to a segment of the population for whom access is historically far too limited.
The approval of DESC would not have been possible without the efforts of the community, including the Highline Ecumenical Leadership Circle of which I am a part, that care for unhoused and vulnerable persons as they pressured city council and showed up to every meeting possible.