Just weeks after the City of Burien declared a state of emergency, the Burien City Council directed $200,000 to alleviate immediate suffering due to the pandemic. The Burien Human Services Commission, a seven-member Council advisory board comprised of volunteers from the community, evaluated applications and recommended that five local agencies receive funding. Council approved the recommendations on June 15, 2020.
“The commission wanted to ensure that support could be provided to community members as quickly as possible,” said Colleen Brandt-Schluter, Human Services Manager. “We looked for agencies who already had systems in place to provide emergency relief. Our funding helped “re-fuel” their efforts to provide emergency services such as rent, utilities, food assistance, and family support.”
The five agencies that received funding:
- White Center Food Bank received $25,000 to provide food assistance.
- St. Vincent de Paul received $44,000 to provide rent and utility assistance.
- Para los Niños de Highline received $43,000 to provide rent, utility assistance, and school supplies.
- Southwest Youth and Family Services received $44,000 to provide financial support and culturally appropriate food assistance.
- Ecumenical Leadership Circle received $44,000 to provide support for youth, homework help, emotional support, and a utility assistance program.
The Human Services Commission asked for proposals that focused on rent and utility assistance, food assistance, and family and youth support.
“I appreciate that the City funding made an explicit focus on supporting youth,” said Pastor Lina Thompson, Lake Burien Presbyterian Church.
There was also a recognition that this funding would need to fill gaps between other support systems.
“Many of the community we serve can’t access government benefits,” said Heather Hallman, Program Director for Southwest Youth & Family Services. “This funding helped us supplement our on-the-ground operations to get supplies and food to those families.”
While these organizations and others have received funding from other sources, including private donations, demand for the services exceeds the funding available.
“There is a network of social service providers, government agencies, and philanthropic organizations working together to meet the needs of our community members,” said Brandt-Schluter. “We are also working diligently to ensure federal, state, and county resources make it back to Burien.”