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Amazon builds home for homeless

Mary’s Place, a Seattle nonprofit that temporarily converts unused buildings into shelters for women and families in need, will soon have a permanent home — embedded in the heart of Amazon.com’s burgeoning domain, the Seattle Times reports.

The nonprofit currently operates a shelter in an old Travelodge near the core of Amazon’s new downtown campus, a place where those who find themselves without a roof in an increasingly expensive city can get back on their feet, while staffers help them find jobs and housing. The average resident lives there for 86 days.

The e-commerce giant, which owns the property, has let Mary’s Place use it for free since April 2016. But come October, the hotel will be torn down to give way to two new Amazon office buildings.

As part of that construction, Amazon will devote half of one of the buildings to Mary’s Place — giving it a six-story, 47,000-square-foot shelter that will house more than 200 people in 65 rooms. The capacity is similar to the temporary shelter it will replace, but the space is about 10,000 square feet larger.

It will be rent-free, with utility bills paid. Forever. And right next to the office space where Amazon workers reinvent cloud computing and the retail world.

“We finally got the keys to our own place,” said Marty Hartman, executive director of the nonprofit, showing off a large, golden key that Amazon’s head of real estate, John Schoettler, gave her — inside an Amazon shipping box — as a memento of the donation.

In a meeting with reporters, Schoettler called the arrangement “permanent, until homelessness is solved.”

The move — which Schoettler says will cost the company “tens of tens of millions of dollars” — is the Seattle company’s biggest philanthropic venture to date.

FULL STORY

Amazon creating a place for hundreds of homeless on its shiny new Seattle campus (Seattle Times)