While Amazon continuously receives hate and is often branded an evil corporation, the one-time book shop now global shopping, tech and content empire founded by Jeff Bezos has done some good this past week. Aside from its Day One fund which reserves $2 Billion to help homeless families and develop early education programs in underserved communities, Amazon has confirmed a Homeless shelter will be ready in its Seattle office.
From 2007 to 2017, the median rent in Seattle increased by nearly 42% compared to just 18% in the rest of the country. As house prices have continued to become more expensive, a large amount of Seattle’s low-income residents found they could no longer afford to live there. Homelessness in Seattle has reportedly risen by 9% each year since 2014.
As this rise came after Amazon’s headquarters were constructed many say Amazon bares a portion of the responsibility. However it’s hard to put the blame on them alone, yet now Amazon has given 8 floors of its Seattle base to a charity called Mary’s Place. Bezos previously donated over a $1 Million to the charity after learning about it from an employee who volunteered there.
Set to open its doors in 2020, the new shelter will have the capacity to serve up to 275 people per night. While that’s still only a small portion of the city’s homeless population – estimated to be around 12,500 people it’s still expected to be the largest family shelter in Washington state.
Mary’s Place is known for repurposing unused buildings and transforming them into temporary homeless housing, the charity currently operates shelters in a former bank building, a former sheriff’s office, and a former restaurant.
Homeless occupants will share the new building with Amazon employees. Not only have they given up the space Amazon has offered to pay for the space’s utilities, maintenance, and security for the next 10 years. The shelter will also have health and legal clinics available during the day. Amazon has offered to provide pro bono legal counselling. One section of the building will also offer a place for Amazon employees to help out through a volunteer program teaching coding classes, reading to children, and also offering resume help to adults.