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Amazon — blamed by some for increased homelessness in Seattle— opens a shelter on its campus


It will serve nearly 300 people per night

David Ryder/Getty Images

Amazon is opening a homeless shelter on the campus of its Seattle headquarters next year, partnering with a local organization to serve hundreds of homeless people every night, according to Business Insider.

Amazon is allowing the organization, Mary's Place, which has previously operated out of a Travelodge hotel on the Amazon campus, to occupy a permanent space in an Amazon building. The company will cover expenses for the next 10 years as well as rent and utilities.

"Maybe someday, if homelessness in Seattle is resolved, we can turn that back into space for ourselves," Amazon Real Estate executive John Schoettler said, the Business Insider reported. "As far as I'm concerned, it's theirs as long as they need it."

The space will be similar to that of a motel, giving families individual rooms to stay in. There will also be 30 rooms available to families who have children with a life-threatening illness, and the shelter will have health and legal clinics.

There are about 12,500 homeless people in King County, where Seattle is located. Homelessness has risen 9 percent in Seattle each year since 2014.

Amazon's arrival in Seattle resulted in a notable rise in the cost of living. From 2007 to 2017, Business Insider reported, median rent increased by 42 percent. In contrast, rent increased 18 percent nationwide.

While Seattle's rents pre-2010 were on par with the national average, rents soared once Amazon built its corporate campus there. By 2017, the median rental rate in Seattle had increased 41.7% in seven years, compared with a 17.6% increase in the national median. ...
Because rental values have risen so significantly, many older, less desirable apartment buildings that would be considered affordable have been bought, refurbished, and put back on the market at a much higher rental rate due to the lack of inventory. Consequently, many low-income renters can no longer find an apartment they can afford to rent in downtown Seattle.

Amazon employees will have the opportunity to volunteer at the shelter by reading to children, helping adults put together resumes, or teaching coding classes.

Despite the millions of dollars contributed to combatting homelessness by Jeff Bezos and Amazon, the company has been criticized for not supporting a tax on large corporations in Seattle that would have funded efforts to curb homelessness.

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