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caption: Tents under an overpass in Seattle during freezing temperatures on Monday, February 4th.
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Tents under an overpass in Seattle during freezing temperatures on Monday, February 4th.
Credit: KUOW photo/Kate Walters

As freezing cold continues, Seattle opens emergency shelters

Update: Tuesday, February 5

The severe weather shelter set up by the City of Seattle at Seattle Center housed 115 people Monday night, according to the Salvation Army, the group operating the shelter.

That's more than the stated capacity of the shelter.

A Salvation Army spokeswoman said they won't turn people away because it's too unsafe for them outside. They'll continue to welcome anyone who needs a warm, safe place to spend the night. The temporary shelter will operate through Sunday night.

Local officials are urging people experiencing homelessness to come inside and out of the freezing temperatures.

The City of Seattle and King County have opened additional temporary shelter beds this week to try to get more people off the streets.

“We’re very concerned about people living out in the elements when we have a cold snap like this,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Constantine addressed reporters outside the county’s administration building on Fourth Avenue in downtown Seattle Monday in the biting cold.

Snow still lingered on the ground near the building that will house 50 additional shelter beds while temperatures remain low.

This temporary emergency shelter at the administration building opens at 7 p.m. each night.

Constantine said it will remain in operation at least through Thursday morning, possibly longer.

“No one should have to be outside in this weather,” he said.

Temporary overnight winter shelters in Seattle

  • Men, all ages: King County Administration Building, 500 4th Ave, Seattle 98104
  • All genders, 18 and over, pets allowed: Harborview Hall, 326 Ninth Avenue, Seattle 98104
  • All genders, 18 and over: Seattle Center Exhibition Hall, 301 Mercer St, Seattle 98109

There are no age limits at the administration building, but those beds (mats on the floor) are set aside for men, according to King County officials.

However, officials stressed that there are other shelter resources in the area and that female guests who come to the shelter can be accommodated elsewhere.

The recently opened Harborview Hall shelter is just up the hill and will accommodate people of all genders, as well as pets. Officials said there’s a shuttle that runs up to Harborview Hall.

The City of Seattle has also opened a temporary severe weather shelter. It’s located at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall on Mercer Street and opens at 7 p.m.

It has capacity for 100 people, according to the Salvation Army, the group operating the site, and served 48 people on Sunday night. The site serves people of all genders who are 18 and older.

In a statement on Monday night, the City of Seattle said the severe weather shelter would stay open through Sunday night, Feb. 10.

Rodney Parks said he stayed at the Exhibition Hall shelter on Sunday and planned to stay there again on Monday night.

"With the bedding I've got, I don't trust it to prevent hypothermia," Parks said Monday.

Parks said he usually sleeps outside, but with the temperatures dipping so low he didn’t think it was safe.

He said he couldn’t afford a sleeping bag meant for temperatures in the 20s. He usually sleeps with a lightweight sleeping bag and a wool blanket he said.

Parks sat at a table at the Seattle Center Armory on Monday afternoon. The space is serving as a warming shelter for people who need somewhere to be during the day. It’s open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, according to the website, and later on Friday and Saturday nights.

County officials are also encouraging people to come to a day center on the corner of 4th Avenue and Jefferson Street downtown where they can get out of the cold during the hours that the emergency shelters aren’t open.