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Inside Harborview Hall’s new ‘enhanced’ homeless shelter: a warm place to sleep, pets, laundry, and help around the clock

Harborview Hall’s overnight shelter now offers more than a stay in a warm place to sleep. There is now room for loyal companions, new showers and bathrooms, a place to do your laundry, and counselors are there to help people find a path off the streets. And, most importantly, the new “enhanced” shelter is now open around the clock, seven days a week to be ready for the people who require a stay when they need it most.

“For our homeless neighbors at Harborview Hall, the 24/7 facility will be their home-base as they work to improve their situation,” said Bill Dickinson of The Salvation Army in the Northwest. “They can visit the shelter throughout the day as needed – from hygiene necessities of showers and laundry, to meeting with caseworkers for guidance in transitioning to independent housing.”

Powered by a $2.2 million King County contract, the Salvation Army runs the show at the First Hill facility, using a bed reservation and referral system to fill the beds. In collaboration with neighboring Harborview Medical Center, the Salvation Army holds five beds open each night for patients who are receiving assistance from the hospital and need a shelter bed overnight.

Because it is now open 24/7, the shelter also supports people who work irregular hours who will be able to come and go to work.

CHS wrote about the reopening of Harborview Hall last December. The art deco-era building had been lined up for demolition with First Hill community representatives mounting a rarity for a neighborhood campaign — pushing for the removal of the historic building to make way for a possible park as the county mulled plans for preserving the building.

The Metropolitan King County Council set aside $2.5 million for the shelter plan in November 2016, but there have been issues making the space livable and compliant with code and it took a year for King County Executive Dow Constantine’s office to compromise to a shelter that wouldn’t be open 24 hours a day.

But the Seattle City Council pushed for the 24×7 availability and community groups like the First Hill Improvement Association also advocated to expand the Harborview Hall vision to include “enhanced shelter” offering fewer barriers to housing like room for pets.

Starting this winter, the Harborview Hall shelter has space for its visitors to bring their dogs in for a night out of the cold. Before it debuted last winter, a number of security improvements were made for the shelter and its surroundings including improved lighting around the Harborview campus. This year, new showers, ADA-accessible bathrooms, and a laundry room were added to the first floor and storage space will be available for those who wish to lock up personal belongings during the day.

The Salvation Army also owns and operates a shelter for women on Pike.

The Salvation Army considers itself a Christian organization and critics have accused the massive organization of refusing services to people because of sexual orientation. Its support in Seattle includes Google which gave more than $1 million to support the creation of a new Salvation Army shelter in the SoDo area of the city.

A similar facility geared toward homeless youth is in the plans for Broadway and Pine. YouthCare has been selected as the lead provider for that project..

For officials, elimination of barriers is important. But with more focus on measurable results, the counseling services at Harborview Hall are key.

“We know we are most successful in helping people exit homelessness when we combine a safe place to sleep with a range of onsite services that rebuild health and stability,” King County Executive Constantine said. “We are continuing to deploy all available resources, including unused or underused county land and buildings, in the fight against homelessness across our region.”

Officials say a similar county facility downtown with 40 beds has “helped 16 people move into stable housing” so far in 2019.

The enhanced shelter is located at 326 9th Ave on the first floor of Harborview Hall.

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1 year ago

Will this allow gay couples to stay in the facilities, or allow people a meal without forced church attendance? This has been a HUGE problem with this organization in the past

1 year ago

Not to mention, are they going to allow transgender individuals to stay in the correct area for them, and not make their support contingent on the specific parts of the Bible that happen to suit them

1 year ago

This is exactly what is needed in Seattle. The emphasis on counselling services to get people into more permanent housing is the only way we are to make a dent in our homeless problem. Kudos to the Salvation Army!

1 year ago

Any shelters in capitol hill? There’s certainly demand