King County and the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) are welcoming the first residents to a Health Through Housing site, the former Holiday Inn Express in North Seattle. When it reaches capacity, the newly-named Mary Pilgrim Inn will provide housing for nearly 100 people exiting chronic homelessness. The phased opening begins with 15 residents this week, with 65 more scheduled to move in by next week.
The first residents will move in this week to a former Seattle hotel re-opening with a new purpose: providing safe and secure homes for people exiting chronic homelessness, as a part of Executive Constantine’s Health through Housing initiative. The first 15 residents are scheduled to move in by the end of this week, and around 100 will be in their new homes by the end of next week. The initial group will include residents moving from an emergency shelter in Renton, as well as unsheltered individuals from the North Seattle area.
“This summer when we announced these properties, some openly questioned our resolve – but now people who have been trapped in chronic homelessness are moving into a safe, dignified place of their own,” said Executive Constantine. “In just three months, we’ve gone from purchase to opening the doors and people resting their heads on their own pillows. And while we mark an important milestone today, our work continues. Before we are done, some 1,600 people will have left the streets behind and be on a path to better health, greater stability, and a more promising future.”
As part of agreements with local jurisdictions, Health Through Housing properties will contain units dedicated for local residents of the community surrounding the property. In North Seattle, there are ongoing engagement efforts with local residents experiencing chronic homelessness, including at the encampments in the Bitter Lake area, and King County will provide resources to help provide housing to individuals from the community at the two North Seattle properties.
The onsite service provider, DESC, has a long history of providing shelter, housing, treatment, and supportive services for people experiencing homelessness and is a national pioneer in the “housing first” model of serving chronically homeless people. The agency has partnered with King County for over 25 years. DESC announced that the new emergency housing program will be named the “Mary Pilgrim Inn” in honor of a longtime DESC shelter nurse. Known affectionately by clients and staff alike as “Nurse Mary”, she provided bandages and flu shots hand in hand with compassion and great humor.
"The Mary Pilgrim Inn is DESC's next step in evolving from the major changes we made early in the pandemic. Those changes, made to keep people safe, also turned out to be better for our guests overall, reducing stress and allowing them to stabilize and pursue goals," says DESC Executive Director Daniel Malone. "As Health Through Housing continues and units become fully permanent supportive housing, the 1,600 units will be the single greatest commitment to bringing PSH to the scale our community needs."
Purchased in July 2021 for $17.5 million, the Mary Pilgrim Inn is conveniently located near transportation options, shopping, and other services. It was constructed in 2001 and contains 99 units. Meal service will be provided for residents. In addition to their own apartment with a bed, comfortable chair, bathroom and shower, a small refrigerator, and microwave and linens, every resident will also have access to 24/7 case management and a range of other services and supports available onsite.
King County has seven other Health Through Housing properties currently in different stages of development:
- Seattle: Former Inn at Queen Anne – Catholic Community Services (CCS) has been selected as the onsite service provider. The site is currently in operation as a de-intensified shelter site as CCS and the County prepare for its transition to a Health Through Housing site.
- Renton: Former Extended Stay America Hotel – Currently in the permitting review and approval process with the City of Renton.
- Redmond: Former Silver Cloud Hotel – Currently in the community engagement phase in preparation for preparing the Request for Proposal process to select an onsite service provider via a competitive process.
- Auburn: Former Clarion Inn – King County is working with the City of Auburn to finalize the Request for Proposal process to select an onsite service provider via a competitive process.
- Federal Way: Former Extended Stay America – Temporarily serving as emergency housing for over 100 refugees from Afghanistan, most likely through the end of 2021. It will become a Health Through Housing site in 2022.
- North Seattle: Former Extended Stay America – DESC will also serve as operator for this North Seattle location. It is currently in preparation for occupancy and the staffing hiring process is underway.
- Pioneer Square: Canton Lofts – Final stages of construction are continuing.
About Health Through Housing
The Health Through Housing (HTH) initiative is a regional approach to addressing chronic homelessness on a countywide scale. By the end of 2022, King County will partner with local jurisdictions to create up to 1,600 emergency housing and permanent supportive housing units for people experiencing chronic homelessness. By acquiring existing facilities, such as former hotels and other similar properties, HTH quickly creates housing that is dignified, protective, and service enriched. King County is committed to working with local cities and communities to identify suitable properties and will participate in planning and community engagement together.
This summer when we announced these properties, some openly questioned our resolve – but now people who have been trapped in chronic homelessness are moving into a safe, dignified place of their own. In just three months, we’ve gone from purchase to opening the doors and people resting their heads on their own pillows. And while we mark an important milestone today, our work continues. Before we are done, some 1,600 people will have left the streets behind and be on a path to better health, greater stability, and a more promising future.
The Mary Pilgrim Inn is DESC's next step in evolving from the major changes we made early in the pandemic. Those changes, made to keep people safe, also turned out to be better for our guests overall, reducing stress and allowing them to stabilize and pursue goals. As Health Through Housing continues and units become permanent supportive housing, the 1,600 units will be the single greatest commitment to bringing PSH to the scale our community needs.
Welcome, new residents! I’m very pleased that the Health Through Housing facility on 141st and Aurora is ready for move-in and welcoming its first residents. This approach of providing safe housing and wraparound services to individuals experiencing chronic homelessness has the potential to truly transform lives across our region, and by turning this facility around quickly, King County is making that happen sooner rather than later.
This is a tremendous step forward to move folks off the street and into a place of their own. Health Through Housing's dedication of units for residents surrounding the property will transform the lives of those experiencing homelessness and, at the same time, help restore the neighborhood's public parks, playfields, and greenspace so everyone can enjoy our award-winning parks system.
For more information, contact:
Chase Gallagher, Executive Office, 206-263-8537