America has a homeless problem that nobody wants to address. In Seattle, Jeff Bezos is doing something about it. Amazon is building what it says will be the largest family homeless shelter in Washington State.
The facility will take up half the space in an Amazon office building in the center of Amazon’s Seattle headquarters.
The Mary’s Place Family Center in The Regrade shelter is scheduled to open in early 2020. It will be based over 63,000 square feet across eight floors and have space for 275 people.
Amazon has committed the location rent and utility free for the next 10 years.
From 2007 to 2017, the median rent in Seattle increased by nearly 42% compared to just 18% in the rest of the country. As house prices have continued to become more expensive, a large amount of Seattle’s low-income residents found they could no longer afford to live there. Homelessness in Seattle has reportedly risen by 9% each year since 2014.
As this rise came after Amazon’s headquarters were constructed many say Amazon bares a portion of the responsibility. However it’s hard to put the blame on them alone, yet now Amazon has given 8 floors of its Seattle base to a charity called Mary’s Place. Bezos previously donated over a $1 Million to the charity after learning about it from an employee who volunteered there.
The shelter is nearing completion at a critical time for both Seattle and Amazon. For years, city leaders have struggled with finding large-scale solutions to the homelessness crisis, and more immediately, by offering enough emergency and transitional shelter each night for everyone who needs it. Amazon is well known for not paying taxes, maybe this is a play to change the public image of the company.