New homeless shelter to open in Queen Anne brings mixed reactions

The new modular houses are planned for the Queen Anne neighborhood.

SEATTLE — A new $4.5 million modular shelter for the homeless in Queen Anne is being met with mixed reactions.

Neighbors met with the architects and King County Tuesday night in a community meeting to talk about the potential impacts.

The shelter will be located on King County property in the city of Seattle, at 531 Elliot Ave W. Right now, the space is a paid parking lot.

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It will have 72 beds in dorm-style layout, serve men and women, and have a space for pets.

“April, May, June, that's what we're targeting,” said Mark Ellerbrook, with the King County Department of Human Services.

The shelter living quarters will be divided into nine dormitory units that can sleep eight people each.

“For people who work around here, there are not that many places here to park. But I see there's a social need also to help the people who don't have a roof,” said Mauricio Perez, who usually parks in the lot where the shelter will be.

Layouts on the King County website show you how the 24-hour shelter operated by Catholic Community Services will work.

There will be showers, laundry, meals provided, case workers, and behavioral health services. Residents will have place to lock up their stuff, and there are no referrals needed.

“It is low barrier,” Ellerbrook said. For Seattle shelters, that means drugs and alcohol are not banned.

“People can stay indefinitely. It's not our hope and we have expectations among all of our shelter providers about moving people into housing but we don't set hard and fast rules,” Ellerbrook said.

It's hard to tell how many people the 72-bed shelter will be able to serve in a year, but at $4.5 million for construction costs, it adds up to $62,500 per bed.

“It’s stunning, I'm just kind of stunned by the whole thing,” said Elizabeth Campbell, who runs the Safe and Affordable Seattle Facebook page and posted her concerns online about the new shelter.

“They're just throwing money at the problem and it's big money,” Campbell said.

It also has some worried about potential impacts to crime in the neighborhood.

People look at the Seattle-sanctioned tiny house village in Licton Springs, where crime in the neighborhood doubled over one year.

“It does spill over into the neighborhood. You see an uptick in the amount of crime, and maybe it's not the ‘residents’ doing that because we're not criminalizing homelessness but somebody's doing it,” Campbell said.

King County says the shelter will be staffed 24 hours a day.

“It is not just an overnight shelter. Really it's designed to help look at the root cause of homelessness for them,” Ellerbrook said.

King County is also opening shelters at the correctional facility’s west wing and at Harborview Hall.

Ellerbrook said the Harborview Hall location should open sometime next week.

King County also plans to use modular construction to help combat homelessness in other areas. There will be 20 temporary housing units going into SODO in early 2019, and permanent affordable housing in Shoreline in the next couple of years.

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