Amazon Building Homeless Shelters In Seattle


Homeless complex being built in Seattle for year 2020

Neil Bondoc, Photojournalist

Amazon is opening up a homeless transitional shelter inside one of its new Seattle HQ buildings that will give 65 families a place to stay before finding permanent housing.

The new 47,000 square-foot shelter, run by Mary’s Place and opening in early 2020, will house more than 200 people each night. It will take up about half of an 8-story building being built on a block where Amazon is also constructing a 23-story office building. Currently, the Amazon-owned block houses a former Travelodge motel that the company turned into a temporary shelter facility for Mary’s Place last year.

In years past, the company was criticized for its lack of involvement in philanthropic and charitable activities and organizations in the Seattle region. But this marks another recent donation from Amazon, which gave $10 million to the University of Washington this past October for a new computer science building. It also in February donated more than 25,000 square feet of retail space and equipment to launch a food service apprenticeship program through non-profit FareStart.

As it expands its urban HQ and hires more tech workers, Amazon has been called out for its impact on housing affordability and economic stratification in Seattle. That makes the company’s decision to build the shelter within its own headquarters “an unusual arrangement,” as The New York Times described it. The Times reported that Amazon will pay for the utilities and rent; Mary’s Place will pay its own staff as it does at the temporary space now.

Seattle’s homeless population has been rising. Last year, non-profit One Night Count revealed a record 4,505 people living without shelter in King County. The “No Child Sleeps Outside” campaign cited a 20 percent increase in the homeless count last year in the city.

“Amazon employees are frequent visitors and volunteers at the existing shelter – bringing meals, organizing arts and crafts projects, throwing parties for the families, and more,” the company said. “By sharing permanent space with Mary’s Place, Amazon employees will now have even more opportunities to volunteer and support the organization and the families they serve.”


By 2022, Amazon says it could occupy 12 million square feet across 40 buildings in Seattle, up from 8.5 million square feet as of the middle of last year.