Mary’s Place, a Seattle-based company that provides homeless people with shelter, is getting a new address next to the e-commerce tycoon, Amazon. On May 10, Amazon announced that it will devote half of one of its buildings to the company, providing it with six floors comprising more than 47,000 square feet (4,366 square meters). Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos spoke highly of the work that Mary’s Place does, saving the lives of women, children and families experiencing homelessness in the Seattle community. “We are lucky to count them as neighbors and thrilled to offer them a permanent home within our downtown Seattle headquarters – Amazon employees and Mary’s Place residents will move in together in early 2020.”
Mary’s Place’s executive director, Marty Hartman, describes Amazon’s offer to provide his company with a permanent location in Seattle as ‘a game-changer’ not only for them but most importantly for the homeless people and families they serve. “We’ve loved being Amazon’s neighbor, and now the opportunity to move into their headquarters permanently is truly a dream come true. This unique, first-of-its-kind shelter will remind families that they matter and that their community wants to help them succeed.”
The new Mary’s Place shelter will include a family resource center similar to those at Mary’s Place Family Centers in North Seattle and White Center where more than 40 local nonprofits and teams of community and corporate volunteers join Mary’s Place staff onsite to provide services and work with families to help them secure permanent housing and employment.
According to a study conducted over one night last year by the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, more than 10,000 people are homeless in King County, with more than 4,000 of them living on the streets. This represents a 19% increase from the year before. In November 2015, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine declared a State of Emergency (SOE) around homelessness. The Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness applauded this commitment to address the critical need for more housing, shelter, and services, which – as they described – successfully led a campaign for Seattle City Council to add $2.3 million to the Mayor’s $5 million SOE investment in the 2016 budget. “These funds helped extend shelter and day center hours, increase program capacity, and support services such as outreach for people who are mentally ill and child care support for homeless families,” the report added.
In similar efforts to shelter homeless people, the English City of York announced that it will build a temporary housing facility for GBP10.5 million ($12.7 million) to shelter the city’s homeless community. According to Crisis, a UK charity for homeless people, an estimated 4,134 people slept rough per night in all of England, “…a rise of 16% on the previous year and more than double the amount since 2010,” although actual figures may be much higher.