Has nothing but negativity been flooding your Facebook feed lately? Well here’s some news that may restore your faith in humanity: Amazon announced that it will transform a large part of its Seattle headquarters into a permanent homeless shelter.
According to CNN, Amazon has decided to donate nearly five stories and 47,000 square feet of office space for the shelter. The company will convert this space into 65 rooms that will house 200 homeless people at a time.
Why is Amazon working to help solve this issue? It likely has to do with local government declaring homelessness a state of emergency in 2015 — and things have only gotten worse since then. The New York Times estimates that there are currently a staggering 10,000 homeless people living in Seattle, in newly popped-up camps along freeways, in parks and under bridges.
The project, which is in partnership with Mary’s Place, a nonprofit that supports and houses the homeless, will take place on the new Amazon Campus and will be completed in 2020. “Mary’s Place does incredible, life-saving work every day for women, children and families experiencing homelessness in the Seattle community,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement. “We are lucky to count them as neighbors and thrilled to offer them a permanent home within our downtown Seattle headquarters.”
Amazon first began to tackle the problem of homelessness in Seattle last year when the company let homeless people stay in a vacant motel while it awaited demolition. The New York Times asserts that while many saw the gesture as kind, they said it wouldn’t create permanent change in the city. This new permanent homeless shelter may be just the ticket to appease critics and create lasting change.
Amazon will let Mary’s Place run the shelter, which will remain rent-free with utilities paid. “It’s permanent until homelessness is solved,” John Schoettler, Amazon vice president, said during the initial press release.
Not only will Amazon’s new shelter provide a place to stay, but with help from Mary’s Place staff, it will also help families get employment and find permanent housing. Perhaps most importantly, those staying at the shelter will also be able to finally receive much-needed medical care and access to nutritious meals.
According to the Mary’s Place website, when the homeless seek help from the organization, "health and wellness are promoted through direct access to nursing and naturopathic care, and daily groups offer support, encouragement and practice on boundaries and communication skills." Mary's Place assigns each homeless family to a Housing and Wellness Advocate to help them develop and implement a plan.
While there’s no doubt that we all have a long way to go when it comes to ending homelessness in Seattle and beyond, it’s good to celebrate every win we can get.
What Do YOU Think?
Are you surprised Amazon is giving up office space for a homeless shelter? Do you shop with Amazon? Let us know in the comments.