Many Shelters in Seattle, New One Get Thumbs Up

Shelters in Seattle are a hot commodity, unfortunately. But a new 24-hour Navigation Center for people experiencing homelessness opens July 12 in Seattle’s Little Saigon neighborhood, on the east edge of the International District.

The Navigation Center, aka shelter, is run by our partner Downtown Emergency Service Center and funded by the City of Seattle. See the full article in Real Change.

So another shelter—what’s the big deal? What difference can one shelter make?

United Way is battling our community’s homelessness crisis with housing and jobs, and we’re confident in the City of Seattle for battling it well from the shelter aspect. But this new shelter isn’t an ordinary what-we’ve-always-done shelter. It’s no maybe-one-more-will-help shelter. Here’s why:

Of all shelters in Seattle, this one is not like the others

  • It’s open 24 hours/day. Most shelters are open only overnight, meaning you have to pick up and peace out each morning and hedge your bets for getting a bed again that night. Guests at the Navigation Center can come and go during the day, which opens up options for getting and keeping a job (because who can or wants to carry all of their belongings to work each and every day?).
  • It’s not just for single adults. Many shelters are only for women, or only for men, and this is a huge barrier for couples and even families who are homeless: They want to stay together. During this time of intense stress and crisis, who wouldn’t want their loved one by their side?
  • It’s not a 100% clean-sober facility. Meaning you don’t have to be clean and sober to sleep there—house people quickly, and provide support services if wanted. This “come as you are” approach is historically controversial but proven effective right down the street at 1811 Eastlake in Seattle. Listen to KUOW’s take on this.
  • Pets are welcome. Another barrier for our neighbors experiencing homelessness is being able to take their four-legged friends to a shelter. Check out UW’s thoughts on this too.

The homelessness numbers are rising, so let’s try some different approaches. That’s what this Navigation Center is doing, and it’s great work that will build a community where people have homes.

The photo above was taken at United Way’s 2017 Community Resource Exchange, which connects our homeless neighbors with health, legal and housing services they need, plus tons more.

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