Thanks to quick collaboration between several city departments, Mayor Ed Murray’s office and nonprofits, the emergency family night shelter known as Bianca’s Place has moved to a city-owned building in North Seattle.
“We call it a miracle in motion,” said Marty Hartman, executive director of Mary’s Place, which operates several shelters in Seattle. “It was so amazing how it all came together.”
On Sunday, June 7, community supporters moved the shelter from its former location in South Lake Union to its new one — a vacant building that once housed the Pacific International Bank on 130th Street and Stone Avenue North.
The space in the new building near Aurora will eventually allow the shelter to expand capacity from 80 to 100 beds, Hartman said, and it allows children and families more room to play and spend time together.
In December, the city’s Emergency Task Force on Unsheltered Homelessness issued recommendations that included identifying and using city-owned property for shelters. Knowing its lease was up soon, Mary’s Place reached out to the city a few months ago.
“The mayor is deeply concerned about the number of folks we have on our streets,” said Mike Fong, deputy director of policy and innovation, “and the fact that the families from Mary’s Place could potentially have no shelter in June was not an option from the mayor’s perspective.”
Though the new building is a welcome home, it’s also a temporary one, slated to become the Seattle Police Department’s north precinct in 2017.
“We know the end deadline, so we’re already looking for a forever home,” Hartman said.
On moving day, Mary’s Place sent residing families out for a day of fun, offering free and donated tickets to the zoo, museums and movies. By the evening, they were ready for a celebratory pizza party, complete with free teddy bears.
Mary’s Place is always in need of volunteers and donations and a full wish list is available on its website at marysplaceseattle.org