Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Temporary homeless shelter returning to old Lake City firestation 39

As a neighborhood meeting with Union Gospel Mission about a proposal to open a homeless shelter at the old Fire Station 39 was winding down Wednesday, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn's office was crafting a statement announcing that the shelter would open on Thanksgiving Day.

From the Mayor's statement:
Because there is the need for more winter shelter, the City of Seattle has signed an agreement with the Seattle Union Gospel Mission (SUGM) for SUGM to operate an emergency winter shelter during the winter of 2011 – 2012 at Fire Station 39. On November 8, the City Council unanimously adopted a Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI), that says, in part, “A proposal to allow FS 39 to be used as a winter only shelter with day services has been developed by the Seattle Union Gospel Mission,… The SUGM proposal incorporates a number of the suggestions made by the community in an effort to respond to concerns raised by neighboring residents and businesses.” The winter shelter at Fire Station 39 will open on November 24, 2011 and close on April 1, 2012, and will serve single women and men.

The shelter has been a point of concern for some in the neighborhood after the Nickelsville encampment moved into the building in 2010, without informing the neighborhood until residents began to arrive. The Mayor acknowledged in his statement that efforts to inform residents of Lake City were "inadequate."

"I apologize for not providing the Lake City community with appropriate notice," the Mayor said.

One concern from people in the area has been the possibility of increased crime and drug use with a shelter bringing more homeless people to the neighborhood. Earlier in the day Wednesday, a Seattle Police SWAT team raided a home blocks from the proposed shelter that police suspect was a haven for criminal activity.

The Mayor said he has heard from people who support the idea of a shelter and from those who oppose it. "There is no consensus in the community about a shelter, and I know that this decision will be met with disapproval from those who do not want it there," he said.

The Lake City Shelter will temporarily sleep up to 100 men and women during the winter months. It will offer services to help them out of homelessness. They include: 
·         Emergency assist: clothing, food, showers, laundry and locker access
·         Dental Clinic and Legal Clinic
·         Substance-use treatment programs
·         Case management, including employment referral
·         Learning center with an emphasis on GED completion and vocational readiness

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