As Seattle struggles through a homelessness crisis, more services are coming online to help meet additional need.
A new privately funded young adult emergency shelter will open downtown starting Sunday.
New Horizons executive director Mary Steele shows me the space where young adults in need of immediate services first enter.
It's a repurposed loading dock with one large wall decorated in graffiti art, created by the shelters' residents. A couple of wooden benches sit across from the wall.
Steele says the room is therapeutic.
Steele: “Number one, it becomes a break from the streets and the drop-in center, so it’s a place to let go of all the stuff that's out on the street. It also helps us with our neighbors because we don't have a line outside.”
Instead, says Steele, young adults seeking shelter are inside where it’s warm.
Steele says New Horizons is partnering with Seattle's Union Gospel Mission to provide the extra beds.
The number of homeless in Seattle has risen, and so has the number of young people who are homeless or don't have stable housing.
One story Steele has heard too many times: “Young people who turn 18, and they were in foster care, and their foster parents will drop them off at a shelter, which is heartbreaking.”
Steele says the new co-ed emergency shelter will provide 18 more beds for those young adults between 18 and 24 seeking shelter overnight.
Steele: “So typically they'll be able to come in that door at 6:30, we'll open here at 7. They get a meal, they get their needs met. They'll take showers and then at 9 o’clock we'll shut down drop-in. We'll clear out the tables and stack the chairs and we'll put out cots. And then at that point they'll be able to be here for shelter.”
Steele says anywhere from 30 to 50 young people drop in for services.
Not all of them will be able to stay, but she says some have other temporary places they can go to sleep.
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Paul LaRose is with Seattle’s Union Gospel.
He says they did a trial run Wednesday and Thursday night with a couple of homeless youth to train up some of the newer staff at the shelter.
LaRose: “Honestly it was a great blessing just watching how relaxed they were. And witnessing how much rest they able to get, undisturbed. And when it was time for wake up, how refreshed they were and thankful.”
Numbers from a 2015 King County study, “Count Us In,” showed a six percent increase in unsheltered young people from the year before.
In addition to the youth emergency shelter, a new development for formerly homeless men and women was introduced by Plymouth Housing Group this week.
Sylvia’s Place in Belltown will provide 63 studio apartments for adults already involved in Plymouth housing programs. This is the first time they've developed a building that focuses on stability and improvement.