Homeless Citizens Occupy Lora Lake Apartment 7
Early this morning a group of homeless citizens occupied apartments in the Lora Lake Apartment complex in Burien. The homeless men and women, responding to the threat of demolition of the apartments, acted of their own volition to claim the apartments for the homeless community.
Yesterday, the Port of Seattle refused an $18 million offer from King County Executive Ron Sims to sell the property for use to house the homeless. The Port has insisted that the property is not fit for residential habitation, although it falls outside the federal buffer zone requirements and has passed muster with environmental and other reviews. The City of Burien and the Port hope to demolish the 162-units of Lora Lake and build a retail or cargo facility on the site. According to King County, it would cost over $30 million to replace the housing units.
The group of homeless men and women occupying the apartments are members of SHARE, an organization operated by homeless people, often in tent cities. SHARE has worked closely with the local religious community to create emergency shelter.
As of this writing, over 12 Port of Seattle police cars have surrounded entrances to the Lora Lake site, while SHARE members are boarded inside of apartment units.
While the Church Council of Greater Seattle does not condone or in any other way support the occupation of the Lora Lake apartments, it has worked hard behind the scenes for the preservation of the apartment units. Rev. Sanford Brown, director of the Church Council, has labeled as “immoral” the Ports decision to demolish the apartments. He has offered to mediate a resolution between the Port and SHARE and plans next week to conduct a “Service of Lamentation” in which local religious leaders will be invited to offer prayers that Port of Seattle and City of Burien leaders have a change of heart and protect the apartments from demolition.
The units in question are part of the 234 unit Lora Lake Apartment complex by SeaTac Airport. They were purchased by the Port in 1998 and leased to the King County Housing Authority. The Authority has paid more than $3.75 million in rent and an additional $1.4 million to the City of Burien over the past 7 years for the apartments.
Upon completion of the Third Runway, 72 units will have to be torn down because they are within FAA “run way protection zone”. 162 Units, however, are within a permitted residential area. The same consultant that the Port has utilized for its noise abatement studies has determined that this location will comply with all applicable noise regulations. There is no regulatory or environmental reason to tear down the 162 units that would be permitted to remain even after opening of the runway.
The Port, however, has decided to tear down the entire complex, and has required the Housing Authority to empty the apartments of all the residents – including the 250 people that will be evicted from the 162 units that could be left intact. Now, $30 million of housing stands vacant, while homeless people sleep in church basements and under bridges throughout the county.
Despite the County and the Housing Authoritys willingness to purchase the property at market value, it is clear that the Port and Burien simply wish to remove this housing, and are unwilling to sell it to anyone who would preserve it as affordable housing or even let it remain until the land is truly needed for an alternate use. All of this while cheerfully planning new holiday decorations at Sea- Tac Airport. Please write the commissioners of the Port of Seattle and express your concern that tearing down adequate housing for homeless people just doesnt make sense. Their e-mail addresses are:
Please stay tuned to the Action Alert for more information about the upcoming “Service of Lamentation.”
Church Council of Greater Seattle
4 Nickerson #300, Seattle WA 98109