E-commerce giant Amazon has announced it is building a permanent 47,000-sq-ft homeless shelter at the heart of its new Seattle campus.
The company is making space for nonprofit organisation Mary’s Place, which turns empty buildings into temporary shelters for women and families.
Currently, the charity occupies an empty Travelodge at the heart of the soon-to-be-built campus, but it is due for demolition in October. The new facilities will be a significant trade up: Amazon is handing over six-storeys of one of its new buildings, which will accommodate up to 220 people.
Amazon’s head of real estate John Schoettler said the deal is ‘permanent, until homelessness is solved,’ and is expected to cost the company ‘tens of millions of dollars.’
Mary’s Place will get free rent, and utilities will also be covered by the company.
The scheme is Amazon’s biggest philanthropic project to date, but is not without its critics, who have drawn attention to the widening economic gap between tech gentrifiers moving into the new $4-billion facility and local residents.
Global practice NBBJ is overseeing the design of the campus, and the building and shelter are slated for completion in 2020. In the meantime, Mary’s Place will move into a another empty hotel Amazon owns nearby.