by Bruce Rutledge
Seattle’s first 24-hour homeless shelter opened in Little Saigon this week, much to the dismay of some groups that felt shut out of the process.
The shelter, modeled after one in San Francisco, is located in the Pearl Warren Building at 606 12th Avenue South. It will provide beds for about 75 people.
Most homeless shelters are closed during the day and only provide space for people at night and early morning. The 24-hour shelter allows residents to store their belongings and return to the shelter at any time during the day. Residents will be allowed to stay in the shelter for 60 days.
But many in the Little Saigon community felt they were not invited to participate in the dialogue surrounding the shelter. Friends of Little Saigon have pressed the city for more accountability, but Seattle officials say this was the best option for reaching homeless people in dire need.
Little Saigon is going through a stressful period of growth with swathes of land being bought up and the neighborhood’s future identity very much up in the air. The homeless shelter is yet another change the district must absorb.
At the same time, the city is under intense pressure to do something about the growing homeless epidemic. A King County count in January put the total at 11,643, with 5,485 sleeping in tents, vehicles and parks. Two-thirds of those people are thought to be in Seattle.