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