Tukwila to fund temporary large tent at Riverton Park encampment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024
CONTACT: Brad Harwood, Communications Consultant, 206-915-7067 or brad.harwood@tukwilawa.gov

The City of Tukwila announced Tuesday that it will install and fund a temporary large tent at the Riverton Park United Methodist Church (RPUMC). The 3,030-square-foot heated tent, which can accommodate up to 100 people, is aimed at improving health and safety conditions for asylees temporarily staying on the site. Setup and installation are expected to be complete by the end of the week.

“The large centralized tent provided by the city is a temporary measure – another band-aid solution – aimed at assisting asylees who are coming to our community looking for help,” said Mayor Tom McLeod. “We’re trying to do the best we can with the limited resources available to us as a small city. But more needs to be done at the state and federal levels because this ongoing humanitarian crisis isn’t going away.”

Beginning in 2023, over 600 asylees have passed through an encampment site owned and managed by RPUMC. Most of the residents are asylum-seekers from Venezuela, Angola and Congo, fleeing violence and conflict in their homeland. The site peeked at over 400 residents back in November. Current estimates place the number of families and individuals at 240.

The new tent follows a number of actions taken by the city to address capacity and health and safety issues at RPUMC. On Oct. 6, 2023, Tukwila proclaimed a “state of emergency” in an effort to help address the crisis and raise awareness. The city also hired consultants to advise on ways to improve and better manage the RPUMC site. They meet regularly with RPUMC officials and city staff at the encampment. In February the city and church signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at reducing numbers on the site and maintaining safer conditions.

“The City of Tukwila has been a wonderful partner as our church has tried fill the void and offer a helping hand to asylee families while they navigate the federal bureaucracy” said Rev. Jan Bolerjack of RPUMC. “The new tent will hopefully improve our site so these families have a safe, healthy short-term place to stay.”

For the latest accurate information about the RPUMC site, please visit: TukwilaWA.gov/asylee-encampment