King County opens new shelter for homeless

SEATTLE – Homeless men in King County have a new place to stay warm. The county opened an emergency shelter Saturday night.

Living on the streets is never easy, but 18 year old Alex Shepard says it’s especially hard in the winter.

“Usually you end up sleeping underneath a bus shelter or something like that,” he says. “It’s pretty tough.”

That’s why he lined up early tonight, to make sure he could get a spot inside the county’s new emergency shelter in downtown Seattle.

“It’s only temporary, but I feel like it’s a dream come true.”

City and county officials say the dream would be having enough beds for everyone who is homeless. They declared a homeless state of emergency, after finding more than 3700 men, women and children on the streets in the last King County count.

"It`s a crisis across the West and really, to some extent, across the nation,” says Mayor Ed Murray. “It`s not just Seattle, it`s not just King County.”

The downtown shelter is a start. The converted office building will have room for 50 men and their pets, something that’s not allowed at most other shelters.

Across town in the Central District, the Tiny House Village built by the Low Income Housing Institute and Nicklesville is about to open. That will give homeless people another option that’s warm and dry.

“When you see someone that’s been living in a tent on the ground where it’s cold to actually being in a place where they have 4 walls and a roof and a little heat, it’s really emotional,” says Lawrence Willis, who helped build one of the homes at the Seattle Vocational Institute.

Alex says it’s nice to see more agencies recognize the issue of homelessness, and try to do something about it.

“It’s just wonderful for them to do this for me and for everyone else,” he says. “Because I know everyone else is going through this too.”

The shelter is located at 420 Fourth Ave. The city of Seattle has provided funding, so it can open at 7 pm.

The county is also expanding the shelter they have at their administration building. They say another 50 beds should be ready there Monday night.