On Thursday, May 31st, Mary's Place held a press conference in the parking lot next door to the building to talk about the urgent and critical need for emergency nighttime shelter for women and children who are on the waiting list for permanent housing.
Mary's Place board member, JJ McKay, explained the issue this way: "We have seen an increase of 300% in homeless families in the past year. While the economy is starting to recover, it is still taking a toll on the most vunerable; the working poor, those struck with major illness like cancer, and those struggling with mental health issues. One out of four women who walk through our doors have no family to provide a helping hand."
The City of Seattle’s Human Services Department (HSD) has taken the stand that temporary family housing is not part of their focus. While the new countywide intake program for housing is effective, the demand is overwhelming. Over 1,370 families applied for housing last month and there is at least a one-month waiting period from the start of the process.
At Mary's Place, the idea of asking children to sleep on the streets, on sidewalks, in tents, and in their cars goes against our philosophy and mission…and human compassion.
Executive Director Marty Hartman explains the new direction the organization is taking: “We have offered the most cost efficient program to house emergency cases in the county. In the fall, we initiated a new program with faith-based partners to provide shelter, but that is still not enough. The increase in numbers of women and families coming through our doors each day, and the lack of other options for these families, has required us to expand our mission to include nighttime shelter.”
Thank you to the Mary's Place Board of Directors for their leadership! Deciding to move ahead without city funding that we had hoped to receive to make our dream a reality, we turn to the community, to YOU, who have shown so much love and support for the women and families of Mary's Place in the past. This summer when we move our day center to a new location at the Hope Center, we will turn our 314 Bell Street location into an emergency night shelter for 12 families. This new program will provide support for 100 unduplicated families by the end of 2012 at a cost of $110,000.
Video footage of JJ's statement at the press conference is here.
If you can help us make the new nighttime shelter a reality, by donating online here at our new website, or in some other way - please email Marty. Thank you all so much for your support!