Between one billionaire, a nonprofit called Mercy Housing Northwest, and the city itself, Seattle has raised almost $35M in total to put toward a new housing project for homeless people and low-income families in the Pacific Northwestern city. The project includes a 24-7 service center open to serving both the residents and the surrounding area.
“This comprehensive approach is exactly what we need to fund,” Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said, “It is the kind of thing that makes a difference.”
Most of the project has been funded by Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Paul Allen, handled through his charity nonprofit, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.
According to the project planner, Bill Rumpf, the actual design and construction of the facility will fall within the $35M donated. They’ll need to raise more money from the public in order to operate it, but everyone involved is confident that won’t be a problem.
Finding space for new housing facilities that can take care of the city’s low-income residents has proved to be a challenge for Seattle over the past couple of years. Mercy Housing recently opened a 108-unit affordable-housing complex nearby in Rainier Valley, though, so they have a bit of experience with this sort of thing. Right now, city officials are looking at a location in Seattle’s Chinatown International District, but nothing is nailed down yet.
“Our vision right now is that it’s in a location where there is access to services and public transit,” Paul Butler, the man in charge of the homelessness programs for the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation explained.
The project has been in the works for several months, and is expected to take at least two years. Right now, it’s a little behind schedule, but city Mayor Ed Murray, Paul Allen, and Mercy Housing remain determined. Ed Murray declared a state of emergency over homelessness in 2015, and has been taking drastic action to mobilize Seattle to deal with the problem and encourage local communities to take practical steps to relieve homelessness.
When built, the facility will not only give homes to thousands of homeless people and up to 100 low-income families in Seattle, but will also play a major part in caring for those it cannot house in the local community. This is exactly the kind of thing Seattle needs.