The electronic and clouding company Amazon, is offering a building it owns as temporary refuge for homeless families right near the new location of his business campus. In order to effectively address the growing issue of homelessness in Seattle, the tech company strongly believes this is a step in the right direction for not only corporate philanthropy for their brand, but also for the tech industry in general.
Amazon will also collaborate with Mary’s Place, a nonprofit dedicated to helping homeless women and their families. Mary’s Place not only empowers women by providing them with shelter and nourishment, but also sheds light on the voices of the suffering individuals within the Seattle area.
The non-profit organization’s core values include an overall mission to promote, grow and nurture the use of collaboration to ensure the wellbeing of those who are underprivileged.
As a portion within the large lot acquired by Amazon in 2014, the 34,500-square-foot building, at 2213 Eighth Ave, will offer nightly shelter from anywhere between sixty and seventy families. These families include multigenerational families and some pets, confirmed Marty Hartman, executive director of Mary’s Place.
As construction to build Amazon’s new office space will not occur for another year, Mary’s Place can run the building as a free shelter for the time being, with the organization only having to pay for utilities.
As a result of some critics who have stated that Amazon has taken somewhat of an indifferent approach to corporate philanthropy, the company has taken a more active strategy to address any questions of philanthropic work.
However, similar to increased real estate prices in cities such as San Francisco, New York and Portland, Seattle has also experienced the brunt of these economic changes. Many believe that the tech industry has played their part in perpetuating this grave problem throughout cities across the United States. During King County’s annual One Night Count of unsheltered people in January, more than 4,500 people were found sleeping outside, a 19 percent increase from last year.
“The fact that Amazon has chosen to be a partner in probably the most difficult crisis the city is facing right now says a lot about their willingness to help us build community and be incredibly caring business partners.”
Amazon’s real estate director has stated that “We had a building that’s not being utilized and we had a crisis in our city,” Schoettler said in an interview. “It’s an opportunity for Amazon to be a good neighbor and do the right thing.” In addition to other leading company members in this tech company, Schoettler believes that this step will indeed change the face of Amazon’s philanthropy in the future.
In terms of the shelter’s layout, each family will have its own room with a bathroom. There will also be a kids’ playroom, a few common rooms, and a kitchen. Families will be able to stay in the center from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. on weekdays. The center will be open 24 hours so “kids can stay in their jammies,” on weekends Hartman said.
For more information about this project, or if you would like to find a way to help Mary’s Place provide shelter for those are are less fortunate, please visit the organization’s website here.