Hundreds of asylum seekers camp out at Central District park as they struggle to find housing

Hundreds of asylum seekers find themselves without shelter once again as their stay at a local hotel has come to an end. With funding depleted, they now reside in Powell Barnett Park in Seattle's Central District, facing uncertainty and hardship.

The group has shuffled around several times in the last year. They built an encampment outside Riverton Park United Methodist Church in Tukwila in early 2023 and then were moved to a hotel in Kent. Now, they're in Seattle.

Funding has once again dried up for nearly 500 asylum seekers from Venezuela, Angola, and Congo, including men, women, and children. 

Leidys, a Venezuelan immigrant, expressed the sadness of their predicament, saying, "It's a sad situation." 

Leidys, who has been at the forefront of advocating for her children, herself and hundreds of others, elaborated saying, "I fight because I see many people fleeing from many bad things in our country." 

Her sentiment resonates with many others who have fled their home countries seeking safety, only to face ongoing challenges in their new environment.

The situation is particularly distressing for the more than 100 children among them. Despite previous efforts, including an anonymous donation of $50,000 that extended their stay at a hotel, their housing assistance has once again come to an end.

Jonathan, a 22-year-old Angolan refugee, highlighted the difficulty of the situation, especially for families with school-aged children.

"We're waiting for help. We don't want to keep moving every month. It's hard," he said.

While the community has rallied to provide food, it is not sufficient to meet everyone's needs. Jonathan emphasized the importance of government assistance, acknowledging the challenges of seeking help but stressing the necessity of support. 

He and Leidys emphasize that the uncertainty is a burden on their shoulders when their focus should be on their immigration status. Leidys explained some are having their court proceedings virtually.

FOX 13 reached out to the city of Seattle who said they've "exhausted its allocated funding for migrant shelter and services." A spokesperson said they've asked the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services to provide additional support. 

In mid-April, King County announced $2 million in grants for four nonprofits to aid asylum seekers with temporary housing, food, support, and legal services. However, Leidys expressed disappointment, stating they haven't seen any of this promised aid yet.

Gov. Jay Inslee previously allocated $5 million for asylum seekers in King County, but this funding won't be available until summer. With the current cold weather and impending rain, the urgency for immediate assistance is palpable among the asylum seekers.

The asylee community is urgently waiting for a resolution to the ongoing crisis. All three organizations are thankful to the community and grassroots effort for aiding them during this time. They've united in solidarity hoping everyone gets housed but kindly ask for donations, food, water, and clothes to help them get by in the meantime.

This is a developing story. FOX 13 is currently waiting to hear back from County Officials and Governor Jay Inslee's office.


Tukwila asylum seekers: New funding for large tent & services to support encampment

Asylum seekers in Tukwila must return to encampment after hotel funds during cold snap run out

Refugee families housed in Kent hotels get 3-week extension, paid for by Seattle