Amazon Opens Temporary Homeless Shelter

     SEATTLE (CN) — Online retail giant Amazon.com will open a temporary homeless shelter Monday, in a building it bought to expand its downtown Seattle campus.
     Starting Monday, a former Travelodge hotel will begin hosting homeless families until the spring of 2017, when Amazon plans to tear it down and build an addition to its campus.
     The shelter will be run by nonprofit Mary’s Place, an organization that helps homeless women and families, and will house up to 200 people.
     John Schoettler, Amazon’s director of global real estate and facilities, said in a statement the company worked with Mayor Ed Murray to offer temporary use of the property.
     “Over the last few months we have worked with Mayor Ed Murray’s office and Mary’s Place — a local Seattle nonprofit that provides housing and career services to homeless families, and one we’ve supported for a number of years — to determine if a building we recently bought could be utilized by Mary’s Place as an emergency family shelter until the spring of 2017. Construction on the facility isn’t scheduled until then, and we saw a unique opportunity to help hundreds of homeless women, children and families,” Schoettler said.
     Murray declared a state of emergency last year to address the homeless crisis in Seattle.
     “We are so happy to see Seattle’s forward-thinking companies contributing toward solutions to address the homelessness crisis and supporting great organizations like Mary’s Place,” Murray said in a statement.
     Mary’s Place posted a statement on its Facebook page saying it was “giddy” over the announcement.
     “Thank you Amazon.com for your amazing generosity! Thanks to you, Mayor Ed Murray, and the city of Seattle, more than 200 moms, dads, and kids (and pets!) will be safe, warm and together at night!” the post said.
     In January, an annual one-night count of homeless people sleeping on the streets in Seattle totaled more than 4,500.
     Seattle is one of the most expensive places to rent in the nation according to a 2015 study by Zillow, with the average apartment costing $1,900 a month.
     The Puget Sound area is home to many tech companies, including Amazon, and thousands of new well-paid employees have driven up the cost of housing.

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