Homeless families searching for emergency night shelter will soon find a bit more space. Mary's Place received a $200,000 grant from the City of Seattle where city council has responded to the urgent need.

Still, the need far outweighs the supply.

Mary's Place night shelters, like the one at Bell Street and 4th Avenue in Seattle, can house nearly 50 mothers and children each night. High joblessness and a lack of affordable housing have forced more families out on the street and onto the shelter's doorstep where, far too often, the staff must say, Sorry, we have no room.

The best we can do is, if there's emergency shelters, we will send them there, said Executive Director Marty Hartman, but we can refer to Nickelsville, a tent encampment if we have to. But there aren t any other options.

Hartman describes the situation as heartbreaking.

The number of women and newborns showing up on our doorsteps may shock many people, she said.

The diverse population of women and children is evident at Mary's Place Day Shelter in Seattle on 9th Avenue and Stewart Street. New babies-born into homelessness are cradled by women of all races and ages in an economic oppression that does not discriminate.

The rise in the homeless population is blamed on unemployment and lack of affordable housing. In King County, 450 known families are on a list waiting for emergency shelter, with many more believed to be unlisted.

The state superintendent s office reported last week there are more than 30,000 homeless students statewide, a nearly 12 percent increase from 2011-12.

Mary's Place was one of several shelters that applied for Seattle's Crisis Response Grant to help families like Elisa Nunez. She has two small children, including 5-year old Rayana, whose beaming smile lights the room despite dreary circumstances. Rayana moves each week with the mobile shelter rotating between various area churches. Rayana and her elementary school brother were sleeping on the floor of a friend s apartment before her mother found refuge in Mary's Place. She says she and her brother, Want a house.

The city's grant would be enough to provide another 30 families with night shelter space in Seattle. Mary's Place was recently named Best Non-profit by Greater Seattle Business Association last week. The director of Seattle City Human Services Department decides which organization is best suited for the grant.

Mary's Place has a wish list of immediate supply needs to help the children in their care.

Immediate Shelter Needs

  • Diapers: Sizes 4, 5, 6 and pull ups
  • Milk
  • Cereal
  • Kids Snacks: fruit rollups, goldfish, granola bars, etc
  • Juice boxes
  • Chapstick
  • Deodorant
  • Depends

Drop off donations at Mary's Place Monday-Friday, 7am to 4:30pm.

Address is 1830 9th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101.

Drop off donation at the Emergency Family Shelter on Saturday and Sunday, 8am to 5pm.

The address is 314 Bell St, Seattle, WA 98121

For more information go to

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