Richard Dover Speaks at Burien City Council

I spoke at the 3/20/17 Burien City Council Meeting during the public comment time. It is very hard to only speak for three minutes. Burien Homelessness Think Tank is not a formally organized organization so I was not speaking on behalf of the Think Tank.

I am very supportive of a day shelter. I will be writing a lengthy article on this at a later date. I will be addressing the concerns that some have about a day shelter in Burien. I will also be addressing the benefits and sharing testimonials about the benefits. But like I said in my comments the key is the shelter must be managed well, I will speak on this also in my article.

I am totally against encampments of all forms. I read in the Burien study the statement by a UGM volunteer that having encampments helps to stay connected with specific homeless individuals. That may be true, but I believe the negatives absolutely outweigh the positives. I will be writing an article regarding encampments. I personally will take a strong stance against the council encouraging any type of encampments.

I absolutely believe one of the problems regarding dealing with the homelessness problem is individuals and organizations not interacting with each other. Many thinking their position is the only correct position. Many unwilling to look at the positives and the negatives. Some not seeing homeless people as having value and worth. There needs to be more cooperation among those who are concerned about homelessness. There needs to be the understanding there is more than one way to deal with homelessness.

I believe it would be wise that the City Council develop a task force on homelessness (or work with an outside organization that has a balanced approach regarding homelessness) before making any major decisions regarding how to deal with the homeless problem. The Burien study was very lacking. Interviewing four homeless people out of all the homeless/working poor there is in Burien is unacceptable. Talking to police supervisors only instead of talking to the officers that deal with homeless people daily is unacceptable. What really was missing in the study is the fact that there was little contact with the general public and with those like myself who have been working with the homeless and others for years. I seen nothing in the study of them interviewing people with Victory Outreach and other organizations that work with the homeless daily. No interviews with those who run sober houses, with those involved in homeless ministries (other than Transform Burien).

I personally believe it is not the government that needs to be on top of this issue. They will always fall short. It should be citizens on top of the issue. Citizens coming up with solutions and the government assisting those who are helping to solve the homeless problem. The government working with non-profits and other groups that are doing the hands on work.

My public rebuke of Councilwoman Berkowitz was based upon public comments by Berkowitz. At a previous council meeting I spoke in regards to some of the services offered by Transform Burien. Councilwoman Berkowitz made a statement that because it was a Christian outreach that there were some prejudices and biases and thus certain people would not be treated fairly or receive services. She later insinuated there was racism and some at the meeting were bigots and racists.. She went so far that one of the council members called be back to the podium to address her comments. He stated, “You mentioned that Transform Burien does what Jesus commanded us to do. Do you think Jesus was racist?” I have a belief when something is done in public it is addressed in public. Because councilwoman Berkowitz chooses to not be at council meetings in person, I was unable to address her in person. Because she made the comments publicly, I addressed her publicly. One of the main problems I have in regards to Councilwoman Berkowitz not being at council meetings in person is because it is much easier to call people names on the phone than looking at them face to face.

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