Amazon is building a homeless shelter inside its downtown Seattle headquarters. Eight floors of an upcoming office building will be home to the Mary’s Place Family Center early next year and will be able to house up to 275 guests per night.
The Seattle Times reported that the tech giant has been working on the homeless housing project with its longtime community partner, Mary’s Place, for two years. Over 63,000 square feet of space within one of Amazon’s new corporate office buildings at Seventh Avenue and Blanchard Street is being built out for the local nonprofit. Not only will it house sleeping spaces for homeless families, the facility will also include an industrial kitchen where meals will be prepared for guests and 10 other Mary’s Place shelters in Kings County.
The new shelter will also feature a health and legal clinic, a rec room, a rooftop terrace, and a diversion shelter to help homeless families in transition. Two of its floors will house 30 rooms for unhoused families with children under treatment for serious medical illnesses. On the seventh floor of the building, there will be space for Amazon employees to continue their volunteer work through Mary’s Place by offering coding courses, resume workshops, and reading lessons to kids.
Amazon has said it’s committed to paying for the family center’s rent, as well as all maintenance, utilities, and security costs over the next 10 years. In an interview with the Seattle Times, an Amazon real estate executive said the space will belong to Mary’s Place for as long as needed, but the nonprofit will be responsible for all operations, programming, and staff salaries. Yearly costs are estimated to be about $2 million.
Since it began construction on its massive campus in Seattle nearly a decade ago, Amazon has had to repeatedly battle with the local government for more space. Advocating on behalf of community organizations like Mary’s Place is one way the company has tried to smooth things over with Seattle locals (other than pouring $1.5 million into last week’s City Council race on behalf of pro-business candidates). In 2017, Mary’s Place moved into the former Travelodge hotel building that Amazon bought for its future downtown expansion and in June, Amazon pledged to annually donate $8 million to fight homelessness and provide low-cost housing surrounding its campuses in both Seattle and Arlington, Virginia.
The building that houses Mary’s Place Family Center is on track to receive LEED Gold certification. An opening date for the facility has not been announced.