Seattle – Homeless Citizens Occupy Lora Lake Apartments

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

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