Paul Allen (right). Image via Wikimedia.

Paul Allen to Donate $30 Million for Seattle Homeless Housing and Resource Center

The Microsoft co-founder and Vulcan chair is partnering with Seattle and Mercy Housing Northwest.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and his Paul G. Allen Family Foundation will donate $30 million to Seattle for building a new facility to house and support homeless people, according to a press release from Mayor Ed Murray’s office. The city will pitch in another $5 million for operations and maintenance. Mercy Housing Northwest will operate the facility. No details are yet available about the location, design, or schedule.

According to the release, the center will be “an innovative, permanent supportive housing and onsite services community that will serve as a resource hub for Seattle-area families with children who are experiencing homelessness.” 1,684 families are currently waiting for housing in King County, and more than 3,498 Seattle Public School students were homeless at some point during the 2015-2016 school year.

“Paul Allen understands the homelessness crisis requires everyone in our community, particularly our business leaders, to help,” said Murray in the release. “This commitment is an example of the incredible difference our philanthropic and business leaders can make in our community, as I called on others to do during my State of the City speech this year. Thank you to Paul Allen, his family, and the foundation for making this incredibly generous investment to address this crisis.” Allen is also the co-founder and chair of the Seattle development company Vulcan, Inc.

Seattle’s homeless population has been growing for decades, and in the past two years or so the crisis has become one of the city’s central political problems. In response, the mayor has escalated both the city’s efforts to place campers in housing and Seattle’s longtime policy of chasing homeless people who can’t or won’t accept services around the city in an endless game of Whack-a-Mole. The most immediate cause of the crisis is Seattle’s demand-driven housing market, though inequality and declining public services also contribute.

Earlier this year, the mayor proposed a property tax to fund $55 million in homelessness remediation, to be approved by voters on the fall ballot. He later cancelled it, citing new plans to run a larger, sales-tax based ballot measure with King County next year. Murray’s HALA plan is tackling the longer-term problem of expanding Seattle’s housing stock, affordable and otherwise.

In a press release, city Councilmember and Human Services and Public Health committee chair Sally Bagshaw responded to news of Allen’s influx of Benjamins. “I’m truly thankful to Paul Allen and his foundation for reinvesting $30 million in our community,” she said. “More families will be housed, more children stabilized and more people given a second chance…[The] Paul G. Allen Foundation now joins regional leaders including Starbucks, Amazon, the Raikes Foundation and others who are investing in innovative solutions to homelessness. With these dollars, we can put our arms around our neighbors who need our support.

“This is a truly wonderful day.”

As we reported last year, Bagshaw has previously blocked attempts by Councilmember Mike O’Brien and civil rights groups to rein-in the mayor’s roving encampment evictions. Asked repeatedly during an interview last week whether she has any intention of returning to the issue of rules limiting homeless encampment evictions, Bagshaw repeatedly changed the subject.

cjaywork@seattleweekly.com

This post has been updated.

More in News & Comment

Hundreds of teachers rally outside of John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence to ask for raises in the upcoming contract with Seattle Public Schools. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
Is a Strike Looming at Seattle Public Schools?

Some educators say they’re ready to stall negotiations to demand competitive wages.

Race For King County Prosecutor Heats Up at Seattle Forum

Former public defender Daron Morris slams incumbent Dan Satterberg for the use of bail in the county justice system

Democratic Socialist to Run Against Rep. Adam Smith in Nov. Election

After coming up short in early results for Aug. 7 primary, Sarah Smith moves into second place

Sparks Continue to Fly Over Safeco Field Maintenance Funding

PFD board member argues that $180 million in public money for stadium upkeep lets Mariners off the hook.

Photo courtesy of The Herald
Death Watch For Killer Whales?

Grieving mother orca shines a spotlight on a serious ecological issue.

Photo by Josh Kelety
City Council Passes Temporary Historic Protection for The Showbox

With a lively crowd on hand, the Council unanimously voted to delay any demolition of the venue by 10 months.

Carmen Best was confirmed as the Seattle Police Chief on Aug. 13. Photo courtesy of the Seattle Police Department.
There’s a New Police Chief In Town

Seattle City Council Confirms Carmen Best as the Chief of the Seattle Police Department

The Roundup: White supremacy, teacher salaries and a homemade bomb

• Over 100 people rallied outside the Crossroads Bellevue shopping center on… Continue reading

Developmental Disabilities Administration employees take a break during the workday to advocate for higher pay and affordable health insurance on August 9, 2018. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
State Employees Can’t Afford Seattle

As the cost of living booms, case managers in contract negotiations cite low wages for high turnover rates.

Most Read