Last week’s news about homelessness

Last week (Sept 7) the City of Seattle released summaries of two reports from homelessness consultants that make recommendations for how the city and county address this crisis in our community. Some of the key findings and recommendations, include:

  • focus on programs that give people short-term help to return to permanent housing faster, rather than transitional housing
  • provide 24×7 facilities like the San Francisco Navigation Center model that lowers barriers to shelter and offers services that are tailored to the needs of homeless individuals and families
  • institute a more efficient process for assessing the needs of people without homes and determining what help they should receive

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced the “Pathways Home” plan that addresses many of the report recommendations and includes a goal to move 500 unsheltered families indoors by the end of 2017. We are excited and hopeful for these changes, and grateful for the resources and focus that our community is committing to solving this crisis.

As the largest provider in the region, Mary’s Place has a proven track record of success. We have been working with families experiencing homelessness since 1999. We opened our first emergency night shelter in 2010 to bring families inside, together, to warmth and safety at night.

051016_023-bvhToday, with your help, Mary’s Place operates six crisis response family shelters that provide refuge and community for 400 family members experiencing homelessness. Last week, we got 133 school-age children enrolled and off to school! We do this in loaned buildings awaiting development, for $14 dollars per person/per night. Our intent is to make a stay at Mary’s Place as short as possible. Within 48 hours of arriving at a Mary’s Place shelter, our advocates are working with families to address barriers and develop housing and financial stability plans.

We doubled our capacity in 2016 and still our shelters are full nearly every night, except when we have been constrained by bureaucratic intake policies. We were pleased to be able to work with the county to change that process and ensure that no bed remains empty when there are children sleeping outside.

We know that wraparound services are key to moving families forward. Our Family Center in north Seattle is a 24×7 shelter for 100 family members that provides beds, meals, showers, and laundry, as well as individualized counseling and services from Mary’s Place Housing & Wellness Advocates and access to more than 40 co-located service providers.

We support the goal of reducing barriers to shelter. Our shelters accommodate all types of family configurations, including juliassingle moms, single dads, extended families, and now families with pets – allowing families to stay together during this challenging time in their lives. But we also take the safety of our families and children very seriously. Providing a safe haven for children, domestic violence survivors, and vulnerable families is our priority.

As a partner with the city and county on the goal of ending family homelessness, we have made it a mission that NO CHILD SLEEPS OUTSIDE and continue to work and build until that is achieved, but it will require all of us working together. We are proud to partner with leading companies and organizations in our community to provide a roof, basics, and safety to vulnerable parents with kids each night.

You are what makes this possible! We could not continue to expand, to open more shelters, and to bring in more families without your faith and support. Watch for exciting news from Mary’s Place in the next few months about our plans, and how you can help!

If you have any questions, I hope that you will contact me or Mary’s Place Executive Director, Marty Hartman. I welcome your ideas and feedback.






JJ McKay, Board Chair
Mary’s Place




Do you have job openings? Mary’s Place needs your help!

We are looking to get our guests and Empower U interns hired into great, permanent jobs, which for many is the first step to stable housing! Do you know any organizations, friends, or employers who can help? We have several people eager for their chance to succeed, like Mary’s Place intern, Habtam, who just got a job at the Westin Hotel!

You can help people like Michael – Michael (name has been changed) moved with his mom and siblings to Seattle looking for a new opportunity but when that opportunity was slow coming, they came to Mary’s Place. They were assigned a Housing & Wellness Advocate who encouraged Michael to look for a job. It would be his first job and after applying at several places, Michael became frustrated, worried and lacked confidence. Luckily, the Mary’s Place Empower U Internship Program was there to help him.

The Empower U Internship Program provides three month internships for Mary’s Place guests – at the front desk, in the kitchen, doing janitorial work, sorting donations, etc., that provide a small stipend and job experience. These internships help our guests gain job skills to excel in the job market. Not only do the internships lead to a referral from Mary’s Place, but organizations know they are getting a great, reliable employee.

Michael spent time with the Empower U Internship Program staff practicing applying for jobs, interviewing, and discussing how past life and volunteer experiences could translate to job skills. The staff took Michael to a local business interested in working with Mary’s Place to find great employees. There, they met with the owner, Brad, and filled out a job application together. Brad and Michael seemed to “click” right away and a week later Michael started his first job! Every time the staff at Mary’s Place sees him, he is so excited and his mom is always saying how proud she is of him.

Do you want to make a difference and help individuals like Michael? Our employment partners are critical to the success of our intern graduates and guests. Can your organization become one of our employment partners?

Partners like Superior Gardening Service that just hired one of our Mary’s Place dads! Amazon, who hosted a hiring fair and brought volunteer employees to help complete applications; and The Home Depot, which is also planning a hiring fair for our guests and interns. And our relationship with the Seattle Hotel Association has lead to many hotel hiring partners.  Some of the types of jobs we are looking for are:

  • Entry-level administrative jobs
  • Janitorial jobs with limited English requirements
  • Cashier jobs
  • “Second chance” jobs for guests with criminal convictions
  • Opportunities at smaller locations that may give a more hands-on experience to help our guests succeed

If you have a job you need filled, or ideas for how we might partner to place some of our amazing families at your company, please contact Laura at and let’s talk!