Burien, Washington, a working-class city of 50,000 near Seattle, has adopted a new approach to homelessness. Like all cities in the Puget Sound region, Burien has struggled with chronic homelessness, addiction, and public camping in recent years. But this spring, after increasing public outcry over encampments and their trash and discarded needles, the city’s leadership embarked on an ambitious new program to enforce the law against such public sites.
The initiative began by chance. Last winter, local business owner Martin Barrett, brainstorming ways to improve the city’s business climate, hired an organizer to walk door-to-door asking small-business owners their concerns. The organizer spoke with more than 100 owners, representing all of Burien’s racial and ethnic backgrounds—the city is 50 percent nonwhite — and their response was resounding: the homelessness crisis was dramatically affecting their businesses and sense of safety.Continue Reading at