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24/7 homeless shelter with room for companions and pets opens on First Hill

The city-funded shelter is operated by Compass Housing Alliance

Joe Mabel

Compass Housing Alliance opened a new, 100-bed shelter in First Hill’s First Presbyterian Church on Wednesday. Open 24 hours and open to companions and pets, the shelter offers a more flexible option for those that need it.

Compass at First Presbyterian is funded with a $1.3 million grant from the city.

It will be open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, “rather than have people line up outside at night and return them to the streets early in the morning,” said Compass in a release.

In addition to a low-barrier shelter, the program includes wraparound services—not only case management, but meals, laundry, and showers.

The shelter’s model “offers individuals the opportunity to stay in one place, which is the stability they need while searching for a permanent solution, rather than returning to the streets each day and hoping for a bed somewhere that night,” explained Compass’s executive director Janet Pope in a statement.

The idea is to eliminate many barriers to getting assistance: Support and services will be available throughout the day and in the evening. The facility will welcome companions sticking together, as well as people with pets, and provide storage for possessions.

In doing this, the shelter “follows the successful model that Compass Housing Alliance has implemented across our other shelter and housing programs,” said Pope. “We can have greater impact in developing a 24/7 facility of this capacity.”

A city survey found that wanting to stay with your people is a common barrier to the shelter system. 24 percent of people who responded to the city’s needs assessment said they weren’t in a shelter because they wanted to stay with their partner; 13.3 percent cited wanting to stay with friends. 20 percent said they weren’t in a shelter because they couldn’t bring a pet.

Having a shelter open around the clock also reduces barriers. Shelter curfews or restrictive hours can be hard to balance with a job or other obligations.

Belongings are also a frequent source of stress for those who are unsheltered. Possessions were at the crux of an ACLU lawsuit against the City of Seattle and the Washington State Department of Transportation over homeless encampment sweeps.

First Presbyterian Church provided the space to Compass for the shelter. An on-site manager will “interact with the community, provide oversight and ensure that the church grounds are well maintained,” said a release announcing the opening.

People will be referred to the shelter through the city’s navigation team.