Amazon has faced no shortage of troubles in 2020, many of them self-inflicted. But here’s one thing done right, at least.
One of the buildings located in company’s downtown Seattle campus has now opened its doors as a permanent homeless shelter built with displaced families in mind. It’s the product of an ongoing Amazon partnership with the local nonprofit, Mary’s Place.
The two interests previously teamed up back in 2016 to open another shelter on Amazon’s campus. That one, established inside a 35,000 square-foot building, was conceived as a temporary arrangement. Amazon had other plans for it, but with construction on the former motel and college dorm set to begin a year later, Mary’s Place was able to set up the unused space to house up to 200 families.
That shelter stuck around through 2018, and its success led to plans for a more permanent location on Amazon’s campus. The new one opened in early March 2020 in a 63,000 square-foot space – making it the largest shelter in Washington state – that can house “275 moms, dads, and children every night.”
It’s got more than that, too, as Amazon’s earlier announcement, from late 2019, reveals:
Stretched over eight floors, the shelter includes four floors designated for sleep, which is paramount to guests making a transformation in their lives. In addition to standard shelter space, the shelter also includes Diversion program sleep spaces, for families who need light assistance to quickly move into housing, and also 30 Popsicle Place rooms, for families with medically fragile children. In fact, this new shelter will triple the Popsicle Place capacity. On the additional four floors, more unique shelter features include: an industrial kitchen, a children’s play area, and space for professional services such as pro bono legal support from Amazon’s legal team.
The shelter’s development has been a plan for some time, and no one could have foreseen how helpful the timing of an early March opening would be. In addition to the assortment of services detailed above, the shelter is also centrally located in downtown Seattle, meaning families displaced by the pandemic (as well as for other reasons) have easier access to hospitals, mass transit, and other community services.
Amazon may have a long way to go when it comes to protecting its own workers. But this new shelter will help some of the most at-need people in Seattle and the surrounding area get their bearings. That’s got as much to do with the efforts Mary’s Place as it does with Amazon’s $100 million, 10-year commitment.
You can learn more about Mary’s Place right here.