On White Center Now: Shelter meeting video & as-it-happened coverage


On our partner site White Center Now, we’re continuing our coverage of King County’s proposed 70-bed shelter in White Center, in the former Public Health building at 8th SW/SW 108th: We’ve added video this morning to last night’s as-it-happened report of a standing-room-only meeting led by county and Salvation Army officials. Many in the crowd screamed and shouted their opposition at multiple points in the meeting, vowing legal action to prevent the shelter from opening; it ran an hour longer than planned and ended with a promise of a second meeting. See comprehensive coverage on our partner site White Center Now.

24 Replies to "On <i>White Center Now</i>: Shelter meeting video & as-it-happened coverage"

  • AmandaKH September 16, 2016 (10:11 am)

    This hurts my heart.   I am disappointed to  hear how fearful, mean and uncivil White Center residents are on this issue.  This is a reasonable plan for an empty King County building (which we are all a part of) to help our area homeless.  The thoughts expressed at this meeting are not in line with West Seattle’s attitudes towards homeless folks (thinking back to the incredibly compassionate Highland Park meeting about the RV Park),  it makes me question annexation.

  • couchpilot September 16, 2016 (11:00 am)

    Agree, Amandakh. I read the transcript in sadness and disbelief.

    How is it preferable to have our homeless brothers and sisters outside with no services and without a path to stabilization? 

    I’ve lived in Pioneer Square and I understand the concerns for safety and clean/sanitary  neighborhoods. Here, White Center is being offered a refuge to help those that need a place to sleep, be warm, get their act together, be HUMAN. And this crowd is talking about sleeping with guns and hiring lawyers to prevent this type of help? I’m so baffled.


  • Judy Pickens September 16, 2016 (11:31 am)

    Thank you, Tracy, for your coverage and the link to all the detail.  Homeless people are already woven into the fabric of White Center/north Burien.  What a shame the agencies involved appear not to have done due diligence regarding communicating with area residents and businesses.  Congregations in West Seattle with ministries around homelessness will surely step up as part of this new resource but we need to know that residences and businesses aren’t being stepped on or over just because the area is less affluent and more colorful that other neighborhoods.

  • Community Nerd September 16, 2016 (11:36 am)

    This hurts my heart too, however if a no-restrictions homeless shelter was to be opened in, say, Gatewood or Admiral, only close to schools and houses, with little to no community notice, the residents would be spewing the same talk. E.g. Magnolia’s response to the RV lot that opened there.

    Please don’t use this as an opportunity to bash and generalize White Center residents and business owners, even if some did present arguments in an uncivilized fashion.

    ~ Gatewood resident that recently moved to White Center close to the proposed shelter, didn’t attend the meeting because I’m conflicted 50/50

  • Rod Clark September 16, 2016 (11:57 am)

    As I remember it at the meeting, almost everyone agreed that the local homeless need and should have better care in White Center, and were in favor of providing it within White Center.

    What people objected to was the County’s chosen location, right next to a park that as a result would become what Roxhill Park is now. The shelter, like all similar shelters, would turn the homeless out early in the morning, and this shelter location would create a strong incentive for lots of them to remain in the park area all day instead of going back to the more distant alleys and streets of the town center and other areas.

    The main reason for the second meeting, which is now being scheduled, is to discuss a better location within White Center, not at all to kill the idea of a White Center shelter.

    • AmandaKH September 16, 2016 (12:12 pm)

      After watching all two+ hours of the meeting, the take away comes from the 12 year old Cascade Middle School student who commented that she had no fear of the homeless, but after hearing all the adults in the room say that the homeless will rape and assault her, she is now afraid.  That is not being supportive, that is fear mongering. 

      • One Evergreen September 16, 2016 (1:25 pm)

        Amanda, before you go bashing the good folks of White Center for being heartless, please consider there is much for us to be upset about the process and execution of the proposed shelter.  We were told last night at the meeting that the year-long process included input from White Center businesses, residents and the Highline School District.  No, not a single business owner, resident nor HSD security were included in planning nor communication!  Plans were to quietly open the doors of the shelter without the White Center community even knowing about it!  And, if you listen to the video, the greatest objection is the location in the epicenter of four public schools and the student walking zone.  The shelter is in a residential area and next to a park that is a through way for students.  Citizen after citizen asked and begged to consider other locations, and include White Center in the process.  No community likes to be ignored, disrespected and lied to like the leaders of this shelter effort have done to White Center.  

  • Kirk September 16, 2016 (1:31 pm)

    Stop being so holier than thou. Of course people are upset! Like you wouldn’t be? This is like a kick in the teeth to White Center.  White Center needs a lot of things; a shelter isn’t one. How about small business incentives. Better law enforcement? 

    What hurts my heart is seeing comments suggesting a shelter in “underprivileged” White Center is suitable but would be up in arms were it in their neighborhood.  Give me a break guys.  White Center has enough problems. King County knows the rest of West Seattle is just relieved it’s not near them. They know nobody will stand up for (un-Seattle) White Center.  Nice play KC. “Let’s pick the poorest area, with the least representation we can find and ram this through.  The people that live nearby are probably too exhausted from working late to stop us.”

    @Amanda – These views are exactly in line with West Seattle’s were KC suggesting a 70 bed shelter in SeaView, Admiral or AK Junction.  Can you imagine? People would lose their minds.  Also, why does this make you “rethink annexation?” Because you think the people of White Center are bad people now becuase they are defending their community? I’m pretty you are a big defender of your neighborhood. Doesn’t go both ways, huh? 

    Remember all this outrage?  https://westseattleblog.com/2011/09/delridge-homeless-housing-proposal-neighborhood-advocates-tour-two-desc-buildings/

    • AmandaKH September 16, 2016 (2:02 pm)

      I don’t have direct experience with 2011 DESC building.  Only second hand knowledge.  However, I was there when the city proposed an RV park in Highland Park. There was a lot of concern vocalized, but the meeting at the end of January was a full 180 from what happened last night.  Last night was not a defense of WC, but an attack on homeless people – and anyone who had compassion for them.  The shouting down of your neighbors saying homeless people are human being was appalling.

      White Center has been undeserved for a very long time, and I personally have been a vocal supporter of annexation because WC will benefit tremendously from Seattle’s support.   West Seattle will benefit from working together with White Center to create a more unified Community.  However, Seattle gets no say in annexation of White Center.    The opposition and downright animosity from the NHUAC alone is astounding.  And if we need to work with the folks in that room last night to get things done, I’ll pass, thank you very much.

      The location has long been a public building.  Tell me about the area when the Food Bank was there, when the Public Health program was there.  How were the conditions then?  

      WC has a right to be concerned about an unsupported shelter going into the neighborhood.  The KC Sheriff’s department struggles to handle the calls it gets now from the problems in the parks and on the streets.  So set some benchmarks – “We will welcome a shelter if xyz is met. We want to know who to hold accountable if something happens.  What if things worsen, can we get the shelter shut down?”  

      But for goodness sake, do better than last night. 

  • Bonnie September 16, 2016 (2:13 pm)

    I am sorry but I cannot believe many of you.  You all know that if this was going on across the street from your house and you lived within walking distance of two elementary schools, a high school and a middle school (not to mention a park) you would be up in arms.  I feel for the homeless and want to help but where are they going to go when they are kicked out of the shelter at 8am?  They will be hanging around the neighborhood waiting for the evening when they can get back in.  I hate to say it but I’d have to think of my children’s safety and the children who all go to school in that neighborhood.  I’m sure 90% are good people but not all are.  There is a huge heroin epidemic in Seattle and many of the homeless are caught up in that.  I feel for the people of White Center and could understand their frustration.  How would you feel if one day you find out a shelter is moving across the street and they had been planning it for a year and nobody ever informed you?  I’m sure I’ll get blasted for my comments…

    • AmandaKH September 16, 2016 (2:24 pm)

      Bonnie, you do realize that your area is not the only one where kids interact with homeless people.  Right?

      I walk my son to school at Roxhill Elementary.  Every day we pass by homeless people sleeping on the ground and on the benches at the bus stops.  Should we talk about Roxhill Park itself?  We stopped volunteering to clean up Roxhill Park because my son brought me a needle.  I witnessed the clearing of encampments, just to watch the folks head right back in after parks/police left. So where will the people go after 8am?  Roxhill Park. 

      You have every right to be livid, you are absolutely right, I would be as well.  But if the City said they were going to open a shelter, I would be relieved because they are doing NOTHING now to help.   So I can’t be anything but thrilled that King County is going to open one “close enough” and do outreach to folks on both sides of the line.

      • newnative September 16, 2016 (2:44 pm)

        The homeless are already among us, this isn’t creating any more.  It’s providing a warm, safe place for the people who don’t want to be outside.  Maybe it will stop some of the tents in the green spaces.  Maybe it will prevent bus stop deaths.  

        Why there? Because it’s already county-owned and will be more cost-efficient.  We need more shelters.  

  • Mickymse September 16, 2016 (3:18 pm)

    I’m with Amanda on this one… Don’t try to spin your white privilege as “concern for the children” and certainly not “concern” for the homeless people. What is there for anyone to be scared of? And what exactly is the reason that you think a homeless shelter SHOULDN’T be located near schools or a park? Where do you think it should be — in the middle of a utility substation? Next to railroad tracks?
    King County didn’t just randomly pick this site. It’s an available empty building. Is there a property owner elsewhere in White Center who is willing to provide their building? For free?
    I’d also understand if the proposal was to refer folks out of Downtown Seattle or to shuttle them over from a provider somewhere else. But there are well OVER 100 PEOPLE currently homeless and unsheltered in the area. These neighbors — yes, neighbors — of ours are already in the community, and already camped out near your homes, your parks, and your schools. Wouldn’t it be better to give them some beds and access to services?
    Jeez, I wish we had a building available in Delridge or Highland Park to accommodate all the people we have sleeping in the greenbelt or in RVs around us. Instead, the best we can manage is some meal support and showers at the community center. Maybe you should be more open to educating your children about what they have and what many others don’t. It will help them grow up to be the caring and compassionate adults I assume you would like them to be.

  • Heartless? September 16, 2016 (3:46 pm)

      Hey Amanda, I’m a West Seattle resident and wish you would quit assuming we are all as compassionate as you.  In fact, to be completely honest and politically incorrect, some of us would prefer a policy of ZERO TOLERANCE.  At the very least, a reduction of enabling programs/policies.

     Call me heartless if you want, just quit ASSUMING we are all in lockstep together. 

  • Concerned September 16, 2016 (4:37 pm)

    How many schools are within 1 mile of this location? 

    How many single family homes are within 1 mile of this location?

    Where will the people trying to get in on a nightly basis go when they are turned away?

    This is not a location for a shelter of this nature.

    Please, please involve the community  in this decision process and do not try to ram-rod this thru the system.

  • LilWash September 16, 2016 (5:59 pm)

    What I want to know is there going to be security or are they going to give us more officers from KC Sheriffs department because they are already stretched so thin for the square footage they have to patrol. I have no problem with a homeless shelter as long as there is more protection. 

  • Rod Clark September 16, 2016 (6:36 pm)

    Lilwash, that question was asked several times, and each time the answer was that no extra King County police time has been budgeted for the shelter. 

    For 70 residents the staff will be two, and occasionally three, people. According to the Q&A at the meeting, there will be no showers in the building, and they don’t plan to provide mattresses.

    Given the difficult goals of the project, if it’s going to be done then people would like it to be carried out responsibly and well and have a good chance to succeed as much as possible and meet some of its goals.

    But everything about this plan has the ring of severe cheapness as the first, second and third consideration of the planners.

  • Double Dub Resident September 16, 2016 (7:45 pm)

    Well there you go.  Ole Mickeymse    brought out the race card with the white privilege BS because people are concerned about their safety and the safety of their children.  

    1. I guess making an over  generalization assumption  of a people is ok as long as  we’re talking about white people and 

    2. Most of the homeless people I see in Westwood are white,  so it kind of throws that theory out the door 

  • WSB September 16, 2016 (8:05 pm)

    King County has now posted its FAQ – I had sent them some followup questions today and just before 6 pm, they sent answers plus the FAQ link. Most of the answers are in the FAQ, and I’m writing a separate story later, but in the meantime, if you’re interested:


  • Magen Ervin September 17, 2016 (12:17 am)

    Two points: 1. Human to human, regardless of journey place, caring and showing sincerely that there is hope can truly ignite passion to transform, in whatever way that individual needs to, from the inside out. We have now served the locals for a solid two, almost three years outside where they can eat, shop clothes, supplies for free, feel the love and in the giving, there is the magic!!!

    2. On the fear and anxiety of this project, have you ever walked or driven down 13, 14th Ave on any given day or evening? There are many groups of travelers that roam that neighborhood and we at Nurture Foundation have built relationships with these people, and served them. I would say that there are at least 90 count right now living in the area already, so why not provide a warm building for them? Additionally, in starting this campaign, is there going to be methodical processes to enrich these lives? Will there be individualized services to lock arms with them? For instance, Computer lab for career and skill building, Therapeutic center for mental and emotional breakthrough, Resources for stability, Medical center for self care/hygiene, Nutrition center for natural methods to kick addictions. Just some thoughts from a grass roots group!!

  • RayWest September 17, 2016 (6:59 am)

    I question why this particular location was selected, and I am critical of the poor planning and the way it was implemented.  If the city/county is to tackle homelessness then it has to be a broad-based effort rather than cherry-picking certain neighborhoods to bear the brunt of it. Are there any homeless shelters in Magnolia, Wedgewood, Laurelhurst, Madison Park, etc? That’s highly unlikely.  Rather than lumping larger numbers of homeless people together, smaller scattered shelters might help alleviate some problems.

  • JoB September 17, 2016 (2:21 pm)

    I am so tired of the let’s put it in your neighborhood and see how you feel argument.
    if you are worried about the homeless being turfed into the park during the day.. advocate for a 24 hour shelter with secure storage so that those who spend the night can actually go out into the community and get jobs..
    because the truth is that the homeless are already in your neighborhood.  they are in mine.

  • Kara September 18, 2016 (2:48 pm)

    I have a youth homeless shelter in front of me and a night shelter behind me. I say hello to them when I walk by, I’ve made them cookies, I see how much effort the shelter is putting in to provide food and clothes, it makes my neighborhood better. Now I no longer live in White Center/West Seattle, but I still call it home and I feel like it could do better. Why is there so much fear? Where did being scared of the homeless come from? When I was attending elementary school in White Center we made bag lunches for the homeless shelter and wrote letters. It was a wonderful experience. 

    Make demands! Make goals! Reward achievements! Incorporate storage and 24 hour access! Team up with mental health facilities, libraries, and food banks…there needs to be more working together instead of fear and tearing apart. 

  • JC in the Dub-C September 23, 2016 (8:01 pm)

    I don’t think people are “scared” of them, but maybe worried about the lack of screening that will be done in such close proximity to 4 schools! 2 of them elementary schools. There have been people trying to make demands and are generally upset because they’ve decided to drop this on the WC residents with no notice and very little opportunity to prevent this from happening. Things have become a lot different with today’s homeless issue, and I’m sure most would be fine with a shelter if it really wasn’t right in the center of all the schools. I mean – map it. It is too close for comfort. Where will they hang out after 7am? There is a huge drug culture among many of them – do you want your kids to go finding that type of paraphernalia around the park? (I mean, sure its already an issue – but multiply it)  There’s no plan for them to include families, so for those lobbying for the kids – go ahead and forget that concept because they’ve already said that is not the kind of shelter going in there. It would be nice for them to include the community, not just dump it on them just because it’s White Center and not “Seattle” – I believe that is the feeling most have in the community. This may be the worst idea I’ve ever seen come from a body of government.

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