King County allowed KIRO 7 to see part of the SODO Services Hub, where there are plans to increase the 270-bed shelter’s capacity by 150 more beds.
KIRO 7 has been covering the objections of people who live and work around the Chinatown-International District to the shelter’s expansion. Just last week, more than 100 people protested against the expansion when they marched into a King County Council meeting.
The hub will be added to the lighthouse shelter, which is across the street from the Chinatown-International District.
The shelter is enhanced with services and space for 270 people and has services and counseling available. It is equipped with 43 bathrooms.
The new plan calls to expand the shelter by adding 150 more sobering beds, along with space for RVs.
There was also an area built with pallet shelters to attract people camping outside, along with a behavioral health center.
When it’s full, 420 people will get shelter and services at what officials call a “high acuity behavioral health center.”
King County’s community and human services director bristled Monday when he was asked where all the people who will eventually be treated at the shelter, will come from.
“Everywhere I go, people ask, well, if you build it here, are people going to come from someplace else? So if we have this conversation in Kirkland, they’ll ask if it’ll draw people from Seattle. If we have this conversation here, they’ll ask if it’ll draw people from north Seattle. If we have this conversation in Auburn, they’ll ask if it’ll draw people from Seattle. And if we have this conversation in Port Angeles as the Seattle Times recently covered, the people in Port Angeles will ask if the people from Seattle are gonna come there. We have not solved this by asking where people should go, instead of how we can house and shelter them where they are,” said Leo Flor, director of the Department of Community and Human Services.
The county estimates that between Pioneer Square, SODO, the CID and Downtown, there are about 750 people without shelter.
Officials also believe the number is 10 times higher across King County.