Asylum seekers moved again amidst contract dispute with City of Seattle

In a whirlwind of uncertainty and mixed emotions, asylum seekers in Seattle find themselves uprooted once more, this time from the Quality Inn in Kent to hotels in SeaTac

This relocation, however, comes amidst a contractual dispute between the city and the hotel owner, leaving dozens of single adults without housing options.

As some families packed their belongings and loaded into transport vans, heading to new housing, Jonathon, a Congolese asylum seeker, was wondering where he'd be staying tonight. He's 23-years-old and single. 

Deputy Mayor Tiffany Washington, who was out with the families on Friday, said they're prioritizing the vulnerable: families with small children.

Jonathon said promises made by city officials for two months of accommodation. "Dijeron que tenian hotel por dos meses (They said they had a hotel for two months)," he recalls.

FOX 13 spoke with Eli Min, owner of the Quality Inn in Kent, who said their agreement was verbal. However, despite assurances, no contract was signed, leaving Min feeling "used and manipulated" by the city's actions.

Deputy Mayor Washington said the city would be cutting ties with Min. "We will never do business with him again," Washington said. "It is over and we will send them anywhere but here."

A spokesperson with the City of Seattle reiterated what Washington told us saying, "Hotel management at the Quality Inn in Kent insisted on advance payment for all rooms for the two-month period. Standard City contracting policies require that vendors invoice for services rendered and prevent the City from making advance payments other than for partial deposit amounts. Management was unwilling to accept these conditions and no contract was agreed upon."

FOX 13 reached out to Min, who said he felt "used and manipulated as they took advantage of my willingness to help". He claims all he asked for was ‘something in writing’. That's when he says the verbal agreement he made with the city changed. 


Asylum seekers left in limbo as City of Seattle fails to uphold housing agreement

The owner of the Quality Inn in Kent, where the asylum seekers have been housed, claims he has not received any payment for their current stay, alleging exploitation by the city.

Min has worked with the City of Seattle twice at this point, helping families get out of the elements and into proper shelter. The latest instance was when he accepted the families into the hotel after they had been camping out at Powell Barnett Park for a week. He says he's the only hotel owner who would work with the refugee families without requiring a down payment up front. 

"I thought I was doing the city a favor," Min said. He claims he offered the city a longer-term stay for the families at a cheaper cost. 

Jonathon expressed his frustration, likening the situation to being treated like trash, particularly emphasizing the impact on families with children. Rosario Lopez, a community organizer, echoed these sentiments, criticizing the city for not considering the families' desires. 

"Shame on the city of Seattle for not taking into consideration what their families want," Lopez exclaimed.

The bond between the asylum seekers and Min is evident, with some individuals refusing to leave. In the meantime, city officials say they no longer have an agreement with the Quality Inn for any additional nights of stay. 

Amidst the chaos, advocates and organizers are scrambling to secure alternative housing arrangements for single adults, turning to community donations. However, limited funds pose a significant challenge, raising concerns about the possibility of individuals resorting to camping out once again.


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