A bit of history:
Six years ago, Seattle’s former mayor declared a State of Emergency on Homelessness and released additional funding to address the city’s rising rates of homelessness. Recognizing the limited resources for young adults experiencing homelessness in South Seattle, YouthCare received emergency funding to open a temporary shelter for young adults—Jackson Street—on the corner of S Jackson Street.
Jackson Street was dedicated to providing culturally responsive services informed by youth feedback and input. It piloted a new shelter model that was eventually adopted by the agency: instead of receiving a nightly bed via a lottery system, young people were guaranteed a bed for up to 90 days while they worked on their goals. The model worked. Rather than focusing on where they were going to sleep that night—which contributed to further trauma—young people were able to build community and achieve their goals.
A move to Columbia City ….
In the fall of 2018, the Jackson Street building was sold and staff scrambled to find a new location. The shelter eventually moved to Columbia City where it was co-located with Southeast Youth and Family Services. Jackson Street retained its original name following feedback from young people that the name symbolized a home rather than a street.
Two years later, Jackson Street faced a new challenge: the spread of the novel coronavirus threatened young people’s safety. The shelter was simply too small to accommodate social distancing. Once again, staff and young people looked for a new place where they could remain safe. They eventually moved to a community center in West Seattle run by Seattle Parks & Recreation. But that location proved to be temporary as well, and several months later, the shelter needed to move yet again. This time, half of the young people returned to the Columbia City location and other half were graciously hosted by the Christ Spirit Church in Beacon Hill.
A home at last….
After so many moves, people’s feedback was clear: they wanted a permanent location located in their community in Rainier Valley. Following months of searching the area, YouthCare was finally able to find a permanent home for Jackson Street located in Rainer Beach on 9416 Rainier Ave S. With capital funding provided by the City of Seattle—and thousands of hours, supplies, and dollars donated by local construction companies and businesses—YouthCare met with community partners, gathered input from neighbors, and rushed to finish renovations before the new year.
We’re thrilled to announce we did it! On January 1st, 2021, the South Seattle Shelter welcomed twenty young people who will be able to shelter-in-place during the pandemic while continuing to work on their education, employment, and housing goals.
We could have not gotten this project through the finish line without the rallying of our community. We are indebted to:
- Christ Spirit Church
- City of Seattle
- Perkins & Will Architects
- Skanska USA
Want to help?
Shout-out to Expedia and Super Six Seattle for consistently providing meals for youth at South Seattle Shelter these last few months. With our new location, we are in major need of meal support to make young people feel welcome in their new space. This is where your help comes in: we’ve launched a meal calendar for South Seattle Shelter so you can easily sign up to provide a meal for young people! Food is a critical need year-round; we’re grateful for our community stepping up to ensure youth in the southend don’t go hungry.