Amazon opens Washington’s largest family homeless shelter — in its own HQ

Amazon just opened the largest family homeless shelter in the state of Washington — in its own Seattle headquarters.

“I’m so happy to share this. Today, along with @MarysPlaceWA, we’ve opened the largest family homeless shelter in Washington state. It’s housed inside one of Amazon’s buildings at our headquarters here in Seattle. … Thanks to Mary’s Place for their partnership in bringing this creative solution to life. #NoChildSleepsOutside,” Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced on his Instagram with a picture of a child in ripped jeans reading a book.

The shelter has been in the works for three years and is comprised of eight floors and 63,000 square feet in the Amazon headquarters. There are separate entrances and “acoustic isolation” from the tech giant.

“This incredible new space is 63,000 sq. ft., with room for 275 moms, dads, and kids each night!,” according to a Mary’s Place press release from October. “Two floors, 30 rooms, will be dedicated to guests in our Popsicle Place program for families experiencing homelessness with critically ill children.

The space features a large dining room, industrial kitchen for families to cook in, a recreation room, a rooftop terrace, something called a diversion shelter, an interfaith prayer room, health clinic, kids club and a dog wash.

Amazon, which has “committed the location rent and utility free for the next 10 years,” is also lending out its employees.

“Amazon’s employees, neighbors, and volunteers will continue to provide homework help, pro bono legal clinics, resume reviews, events like kid’s dance parties, clothing and baby supply drives and more,” the statement said.

An outdoor activity field at Mary’s Place Family Center in The Regrade.
An outdoor activity field at Mary’s Place Family Center in The Regrade.Amazon

“A sense of community is what moves these families forward,” says Executive Director of Mary’s Place, Marty Hartman.

During the coronavirus, the shelter has housed 50 families but is expected to be able to hold many more during normal times.

“This new shelter, opening when it did, has been our saving grace,” Hartman told the Daily Mail.

‘It was our neighbors at Amazon who recognized what we needed before we ever realized it, and this space ensures we don’t have to return families to homelessness during this unprecedented and trying time. (At the shelter) our kids are able to safely finish school – our employees watch children for extended hours to support working parents who lost access to childcare – and moms and dads are able to search for new jobs on new laptops.”

Amazon real estate exec John Schoettler said in the online statement, “We care about our neighbors, we care about this community. I think the impact of this building is all about inclusivity. Amazon intentionally located its headquarters in the heart of downtown Seattle and by doing so we are intentionally being very inclusive. Outward focus to our neighbors, whether you have a house or you don’t have a house, we’re all neighbors. We’re all in this city together.”

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